Dickens discusses Atlanta economy and cultivating Black talent in tech
Post 3 At-Large City Council member Andre Dickens recently participated in a group discussion hosted by the IT Senior Management Forum aimed at providing a venue for Black men to discuss their experiences, challenges, and life-lessons in the world of technology. Formed in 1996, the IT Senior Management Forum is an organization dedicated to cultivating executive talent among Black technology professionals.
Dickens, a graduate of Georgia Tech, currently serves as the vice president of development at TechBridge, a 20-year-old Atlanta-based nonprofit that seeks to fight generational poverty through the innovative use of technology.
During the virtual forum hosted on July 22, Dickens talked about the economic challenges facing the country and the city of Atlanta.
“Income immobility is the hardest thing that we’re facing — the wealth gap, the income inequality — the fact Atlanta has the highest income immobility in the nation, according to a study, meaning that a child born into poverty has only a four percent change of making it to the upper middle class,” Dickens said about the current economic landscape. “It’s a 96 percent chance that if you grew up poor in Atlanta, that you’ll remain in the lower rung — that is devastating. We have to provide hope.”
He also talked about policy ideas and next steps as far as helping ensure that young African Americans are well positioned in the job market.
“I think that skills are a vital part to our economic vitality — skills, pathways, and support — for us to get technology jobs,” Dickens said about promoting skill building to advance economic mobility. “We need to have a strategy on how to get people into college or vocational training — they need to have a very translatable, transportable, transactional skill that’s going to lead to a job that can provide for their families and their communities,” Dickens said.
He added that in addition to working toward economic security, it’s important to value health and access to health care, which has been particularly highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Being Black and being male shouldn’t be a social determinant of your negative health outcomes,” Dickens said.
He also discussed the value of more people becoming invested in their communities through running for office.
“It’s never too late,” Dickens said about being involved in politics. “Anybody that has a tingling in their spirit that says they think they should run for office and it may be too late — no, you can do it now.”