The Brooklyn Tech Triangle Strategic Plan focused on creating an ecosystem for integrating talent from the local community and area higher education institutions with the area’s fast-growing innovation companies.
Building this local talent pipeline brings with it a unique challenge and opportunity. Tech jobs, from advanced manufacturing to coding, require specific skills and training. This creates an opening for educational institutions to step in and meet those workforce needs. Both sides need to work more closely in order to develop the unique synergies that exist.
The Tech Triangle’s cluster of 11 higher education institutions offers a unique opportunity for collaboration with each other and the broader business community to explore the expansion of internship and job opportunities and to create a real-time feedback loop between industry and academic institutions that better aligns curriculum to labor needs. In 2012, the area’s college and law school presidents began meeting on a quarterly basis to implement priorities such as intercollegiate events and resource sharing. High on the wish list was a desire to find more local jobs and internships for Downtown Brooklyn’s 60,000 college and professional students. This led to the creation of Tech Triangle U, a week-long entrepreneurship symposium that has welcomed 100 companies and nearly 2,000 participants in its first 2 years. Similar initiatives, like the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Internship Program funded by the City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and managed by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, aimed to match students from the NYC College of Technology with local companies. Since the program began, more than 150 internships have been created, with several leading to offers of employment upon completion. The program also offers resources for alumni to better connect to permanent employment and networking opportunities.
The success of these programs solidified the need for a consortium focused on local workforce efforts full-time, and thanks to seed funding from the City of New York, the Brooklyn Education Innovation Network (BE.IN) was created in 2015 and located at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. Thanks to the work of BE.IN’s first executive director, the consortium’s efforts over the next three years are being guided by a strategic plan that places a significant focus on building academic and industry partnerships, developing BE.IN-led internship programs with the goal of increasing the number of job and internship prospects for students and alumni, enhancing the college town experience, and forging institutional connections. BE.IN has already partnered with companies such as JPMorgan Chase and Tough Mudder to assist with their internship and employment needs and has begun hosting monthly meetups to connect local industry with member institutions.
In October 2015, Steiner Studios and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York announced a partnership to open New York City’s first public graduate school of film and the nation’s first film school on a working lot.
This groundbreaking project is designed with the objective of providing affordable access to career opportunities in cinema, while simultaneously creating a pipeline of diverse talent that can work in the local film industry in New York City’s five boroughs. Steiner Studios, a tenant in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for over 10 years, has significantly expanded opportunities for digital media and pre- and post-production companies in the Yard and across the City.
Originally proposed in the Tech Triangle Strategic Plan, the Innovation Hub at Building 77 is a high school program that provides student access to Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses and work-based learning opportunities. BNYDC plans to partner with local schools and universities, and leverage its relationships with entrepreneurs and business owners within the Yard to create industry-specific curriculum in the areas of information technology, graphics (media and design), engineering, electrical construction, and modern manufacturing. Once in full operation, the Hub will tap into the range of programs that BNYDC provides through the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 and provide additional wraparound services, such as internships, after school programs, and professional development for teachers.
Another Tech Triangle initiative focused specifically on providing skills and training for area residents who have not received a 4-year college degree to enter and advance in career-track jobs. Provided by the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline and the Workforce Development Corporation in partnership with the Flatiron School, the 22-week NYC Web Development Fellowship provides free of cost to participants a 5-month on-campus training, a 12-week paid internship, and connection to jobs in technology. Since its launch in 2013, the program has provided free intensive training to 88 participants, with 96 percent of the first cohort now in jobs with companies like Intel, Etsy, and Venmo at an average salary of $70,000. The current iteration of the Web Development Fellowship targeted out-of-school, out-of-work youth. Participants earned an average $21/hour at their 12-week internships with companies like Microsoft, MasterCard, BuzzFeed, and the New York Times. Upon completion of their internship in the coming weeks, they’ll be connected to full-time employment earning an average of $65,000 or more.
At the public school level, Big Idea Week is a free community program for grades 4-8 that teaches students about entrepreneurship, STEM, and 21st-century careers by connecting them with mentors from tech, media and design companies. Started as a collaboration between the DUMBO Improvement District and education company, Flocabulary, the program has expanded from one school to 12 local schools last year, with more than 50 mentors participating from area companies.