Coordinating big players and building tomorrow’s workforce

Fixing the Talent Pipeline

New York City, United States

The Action

The New York City Mayor’s office created the Tech Talent Pipeline (TTP)—a partnership between city government, the tech industry, and educational institutions—to create and sustain a qualified tech workforce and a vibrant tech industry in the city. The initiative involves hundreds of stakeholders in a massive coordination effort to ensure that everything that supports hiring—education, training, and recruitment practices, but also economic and job data—are aligned with what businesses actually need. Leading a network of more than 275 companies, TTP’s Advisory Board comprises 28 senior executives representing the city's top tech employers, including LinkedIn, Verizon, and Facebook. TTP also includes an Academic Council with 17 post-secondary institutions that have pledged to further develop pathways for residents to careers in technology.

Democracy Challenge

As industries and economies become more complex, fast-changing, and globally connected, many residents are getting left behind. City governments need to update their economic development, with nimble strategies and broad partnerships to attract and support employers, develop local talent, and ensure equitable access to opportunities.

How It Works & How They Did It

In New York, the tech industry has consistently grown faster than any other sector since 2010, adding more than 57,000 jobs since the end of the Great Recession. But this growth has opened a big gap between labor supply and demand. Companies are struggling to find enough qualified workers, and students and workers are struggling to figure out what skills they should build for the jobs available now, let alone jobs that will appear in two or three years.

Private job boards are working to solve the match-making problem, but that doesn’t address the educational pipeline needed to produce the right job candidates. Government is in a unique position to designate priority sectors and convene and steer the relevant actors, in order to boost momentum and scale opportunities.

Toward that end, the TPP was created as a small entrepreneurial outfit in the New York City government, with four staff members. Its goal is to ensure that people are connecting with tech jobs. This involves aligning education and training with actual industry demand, but also distributing job opportunities across the city’s boroughs and looking at infrastructure. The pipeline is tasked with working across systems and primarily with existing resources; the Advisory Board and staff serve as a brain trust to guide a program that others will implement.

How’s It Going?

Early on, TTP heard that government economic statistics are too slow and broad to be useful for nimble decision making (for example software engineering is growing, but what kind of engineering?). So, they partnered with LinkedIn to map and match skills and make better information available.

TTP heard from employers about shortcomings in the education system—not enough trained graduates, and training that is too theoretical. So academic and industry partners created CUNY 2X Tech, an initiative to double the number of students in the city’s public university system (CUNY) graduating with tech-related degrees. Students gain access to industry-aligned education, mentorship, and internship opportunities with local companies to prepare them to seamlessly transition into local tech jobs. And there are other TTP programs that provide a pathway into high-paying jobs that do not require a degree.

As of 2018, TTP had established partnerships with over 275 companies including Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Spotify, establishing programs with 17 local colleges. In addition to TTP’s own inclusion efforts, it engages with complementary initiatives. In 2018, CUNY and Cornell Tech’s Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York program partnered with the city on a two-week “Winternship” program that created 200 paid internships for young college women in tech fields, to give them a leg up in getting summer internships.


  • High-Level Engagement. The Mayor’s Office is deeply invested in the TTP and passionate about its success. This show of political will brings the potential for greater visibility and effectiveness. However, being closely associated with a particular official or administration can also politicize a program and threaten its long-term sustainability.

Point of Contact

Lauren Andersen

Executive Director

[email protected]

Who Else Is Trying This?

  • London, United Kingdom: In 2016, the Mayor of London announced a £7 million “Digital Talent Program” to connect students to the city’s rapidly expanding tech industry. Inspired by New York’s pipeline, the program connects Londoners to tech employers, enhances learning opportunities, and trains students and small businesses in relevant skills. The Digital Talent Program focuses specifically on creating equal opportunities for women and for Londoners from disadvantaged communities. This includes sponsoring public role models to dispel myths that the tech industry is not meant for these underrepresented groups. Also unique to London’s program is its focus on business development for new companies as well as connections between higher education, startups, and small and medium businesses—support that many feel had been lacking.
  • Chile: In January 2019 the national government of Chile launched “Digital Talent,” a pipeline program based on the TTP model. It establishes pioneering partnerships between industry leaders and job training programs, and it aims to train 16,000 people in four years with 70 percent achieving employment, entrepreneurship or continued study. Read More



This action was originally developed for Big Bold Cities, an initiative of Living Cities and the National Democratic Institute (NDI); republished here with the permission of Living Cities.