Tag Archives: employment

FCC Votes to Bridge Digital Divide

2000px-US-FCC-AltLogo.svgLast Thursday the Federal Communications Commission voted to consider permitting eligible Americans to purchase Internet access using government funds. The vote is a step toward bridging the growing digtal divide. The poor and minorities without Internet access are being left out of the expanding Internet economy

In a 3-2 vote, the agency began the process of expanding its Lifeline program. The Reagan era program provides $9.25 per month to Americans who meet income requirements or who already receive some form of federal assistance. The money was intended to buy telephone or cellphone service. Recipients could also apply the subsidy toward Internet access but only if it came bundled with telephone or cellphone service. The FCC vote could allow the money to be used for stand alone Internet plans that aren’t tied to telephone packages in the program.

Broadband Internet access is becoming more and more important. According to CNBC nearly 30 percent of Americans are without broadband access at home. That 30 percent is usually the lowest income demographic and predominately black and Hispanic exasperating the digital divide.

John Horrigan, senior researcher on Internet and technology at Pew Research Center pointed out the specifics of the digital divide. “We have 29 million households in the country with school-age children. Of that, 5 million do not have broadband at home,” said Horrigan. “And within that 5 million, African-American and Hispanic households are disproportionately represented.”

Thirty eight percent of African-American households with school age children earning less than $50,000 annually are without broadband access. That number drops to 13 percent above the $50,000 level. Among households earning below $25,000 per year nearly half, 46 percent, are without Internet access at home.

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel pointed out that Internet access has become an educational issue. Nearly seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires students to be online. “Students who lack regular broadband access are struggling to keep up,” said Rosenworcel, “Now is not a moment too soon, because this is about the future.” Most of these students, again, are black, hispanic and poor. Improved Internet access makes a difference beyond the classroom. Many employers are now only accepting job applications online. A lack of Internet access or skills deprives many minorities of access to available employment.

The world’s economy is becoming more and more reliant on the Internet. The current FCC board recognizes that ensuring equality of Internet access is an important priority. The board’s decison regarding net neurality and this action reflect its attitude toward a more open and accessible Internet.

“Today begins a proceeding to spend ratepayers’ money more wisely, to deliver 21st-century benefits to deserving recipients, and to get to the heart of the historic issues that have haunted this program’s efficiency,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Internet service providers that offer broadband under the Lifeline plan may have to offer a basic level of service and speed. The proposal also lifts the burden of verifying elegibility for the Lifeline benefit from ISPs.

The actual dollar value of the credit would not increase for the Lifeline service. Last year 12 million Americans were served by the Lifeline program.  Republican members of the board argued that the plan would be too costly.  “I am open to having a conversation about including broadband in the Lifeline program,” said FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. “But any such change must go hand in hand with the reforms that are necessary to producing a fiscally responsible program.”

Lifeline critics believe that the program is wasteful and mismanaged with some Americans recieving the service who are not eligible and others applying for the program multiple times. Some Republicans have taken to calling the phones “Obamaphones.” Odd considering it was a program that came about during the Reagan Administration.

In response to the criticism the FCC has launched a campaign to clean up and eliminate Lifeline abuse. So far the FCC has removed more than a million duplicate entries from its rolls.  A series of reforms were adopted in 2012 to streamline the program. Thursday’s vote aims to expand those measures. For example, the burden of proving a customer’s eligibility for Lifeline is removed from telecom companies and handed over to a neutral third party that can handle the verification.

According to Wheeler over $1 billion in wasteful spending has been “weeded out” from Lifeline. Wheeler added that he was disappointed that mistakes by his predecessors were preventing his Republican colleagues from voting with him on the proposal.

“I am befuddled at how this Republican-developed program has suddenly become so partisan,” said Wheeler. “But I am proud to cast my vote with the majority to reform and revitalize the Lifeline program.”

Breaking It Down

A monopoly on information or information services is simply unacceptable. We cannot allow people in America, because of their income, to be left out of the information age. Keep in mind that one of the keys to economic advancement is education. Children of the poor must be able to participate in the modern education methods and technology. Access to the Internet must be as important as the telephone for these people. Why else would the Reagan administration agree to any program for the poor? Now the FCC has taken the next step and insured the right to information is met. Poor people will remain poor as long as we refuse to provide the economic opportunity that information can provide. The Internet is a tool. It is a tool of information and communication. To deny an economic tool to the poorest Americans is to deny they have a right to advance in society. They have the right to the knowledge needed to improve their condition. The FCC is doing the right thing. End the digital divide!


Study: Internet-based Job Hunting Effective for African-Americans

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Originally published November 7, 2013 at DiverseEducation.com

A new study has found that, with the Internet emerging as a credible resource for searching and applying for jobs, African-Americans have come to rely on online job search information sources more than any U.S. racial or ethnic group. In addition, African-Americans are more likely than average “to say the Internet was very important to landing a job,” even while their measures of digital skills and literacy are reported to be “modestly lower than the average.”

In the study, “Broadband and Jobs: African-Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search,” these results and others lead the study’s publisher, the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies think tank, to conclude that “efforts to improve people’s digital literacy and skills are likely to improve their capacity to use the Internet effectively for job search.”

The study goes on to say that improving digital literacy and skills would generally benefit low-income individuals, those with lower levels of educational attainment, and those in social groups that have significantly lower than average digital skills and literacy scores.

“Broadband and Jobs” contends that, if policymakers and other stakeholders “do in fact help people increase their level of digital skills, [Americans] are going to get payoffs in terms of people’s engagement with those tools to solve important problems whether it’s job search, education, or health care,” said Dr. John Horrigan, the study author and senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

“We’re looking at how people, who do have an urgent need or an urgent problem to solve in their lives, go about solving it,” continued Horrigan. “In this case, it’s looking for work. And we find that people generally use the Internet and think it’s an important pathway to finding a job.”

The study reports that 50 percent of African-Americans said the Internet was very important to them in finding a job, a figure that significantly outpaces the 36 percent average for the entire sample. Smartphones proved an important part of the job search process for minorities with 47 percent of African-Americans and 36 percent of Latinos reporting that they had used their devices for job searches. Twenty-four percent of Whites indicated that they had used their smartphones for job searches.

“Broadband and Jobs” also notes that libraries have an important “role to play in providing access points for the Internet as well as digital skills and literacy training.”

The study found that, while 15 percent of all American adults had used the Internet at a public library within the previous year, 21 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of Latinos had done so. Among poor Americans, or those with annual household income less than $15,000, 24 percent had used the Internet at a public library in the previous year.

“We found in the report that African-Americans and Latinos, especially African-Americans, over index on the activities we asked about when it comes to looking for a job using the Internet,” Horrigan explained, “which is to say they did those job search activities more often than other segments of the population.”

The study is based on an extensive survey of 1,600 Americans, including an oversample of African-Americans, conducted last May by the Joint Center Media and Technology Institute. The survey indicates that, although personal contacts remain the most important job search factor for Americans, nearly one-third of those who had recently been without work cited the Internet as the most important component in a fruitful job search.

“Digital literacy is the key issue to achieving equity in the future of the digital economy,” said Jason Llorenz, the director of innovation policy for the Latino Information Network at Rutgers University.

Along with Horrigan and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission, Llorenz participated Wednesday in a Joint Center public forum that examined the “Broadband and Jobs” study. Llorenz told Diverse that the “Broadband and Jobs” study represents a critical inquiry into why digital literacy matters as a priority for participating in the nation’s evolving economy.

“The Internet really provides an opportunity to level the [economic] playing field,” he said.


Written By Ronald Roach

Senior Contributing Editor at Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Online Job Hunting Tips

canstockphoto9493896A job! It makes everything else in your life work. Without income everything else goes to hell pretty damn quick! African-American’s can attest to this more than any other Americans.

Unemployment in the black community is always, always, worse than other groups. According to the Washington Post black unemployment is sitting stubbornly at 11.4%, twice that of whites. This is a real travesty. My question is why?

According to Pew Research black unemployment has regularly been double that of other groups since 1954! In some areas of the country black unemployment has reached as much as four times that of whites.

I do not believe for a second this is all our fault. This country has a deep and persistent race problem.  It is a proven fact that employers will shy away from hiring you if your name is too black.

A report from Think Progress reveals that Americans prefer doing business with whites. I’m not surprised.

But regardless of the way the game is played we have to get out there and fight for our share of the pie. Looking for work is a job in itself. You have to be prepared and aware of how to look, where to look, and how to present your skills and abilities.

In the age of the Internet more and more jobs are being offered and sought online. So basic computer and Internet skills are more important than ever. As I have just shown you, as an African-American, you need to get real good at presenting yourself to a potential employer.  So how do we do this?

1) First of all create a website of your own as a step above a resume. You can do this in a single day using simple even free website hosting. You can post examples of your work and recruiters can read about your goals and obtain contact information.

2) Do a little research and get to know whats online about you. See what others and former employers know and say about you. This includes social media. Employers are big into looking into your Facebook and Twitter posts. Social media can help you or hurt you in your job search. And don’t be surprised if your potential employer asks for your social media password. Is that legal? Maybe. Be aware of what images and comments are out there. Also be aware of anybody with the same or similar name as yours in case there is some confusion.

3) Focus on what you want. Online job boards offer job seekers various settings and filters to help you refine your search and improve the accuracy and speed of results.  Narrow your job search by region, industry, years of experience, expected salary and sometimes by company name. And don’t over sell yourself or under sell your skills. Know what you can do, can’t do and willing to learn. It’s ok to reach higher but not too high.

4) Focus!  So rather than just applying for that sweet job you found online your best strategy may be to first figure out where you want to work. Who do you want to work for? Go after that company or industry. Many employer’s career pages will allow the job seeker to fill out candidate profiles describing their background, job interests, salary requirements and other preferences. Keep in mind that many companies have a candidate pool that is refreshed at regular intervals. If you submitted a resume last year it may no longer be in their system. The job you are looking for may not be open right now but that does not mean you can’t submit your resume. And re-submit or update it every six months or so. Many human resource managers will look at the most recent resumes first.

5) I did say focus right? Refine your search further by visiting your selected industry’s national or regional websites. Examine professional associations and trade groups. You may find jobs in your field that don’t appear on a national job board.  Employers are increasingly advertising jobs on these sites to find a bigger pool of qualified applicants.

6) Seek out recruiters. These people are professional and may charge you but they can help match your skills with jobs.  Check out searchfirm.com,  or onlinerecruitersdirectory.com. These recruiters can also help you polish your resume, reveal skills you were unaware of and even discover new markets for your talents.

7) Consider a video resume. Video resumes are a new and innovative way to stand out and get noticed.  This is intended only as a supplement to your standard resume and website. Consider using a video resume on your website. A good video resume permits you to exhibit your personality and interests that are difficult to highlight in a paper or electronic resume. 

8) Do your homework. When you want to know something you Google it right? So Google the exact job you are searching for. You may find resources you were not aware of.

9) Stay alert. Many online job sites offer features that allow the job seeker to sign up to receive e-mail job alerts that match your search criteria. You can also use an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) using a site like Feedly.com. 

10) Network, connect. Have you ever heard the cliche “It’s not what you know, but who you know?” Because of social media and sites like LinkedIn.com  job seekers have the ability to connect with people near and far.  You can connect with people in your field to find new opportunities or expand your network for a career change. And the key word is network.  Sites like LinkedIn are made up of millions of industry professionals allowing you to network with people you know and the people they know and so on and so on. But keep in mind that when you sign up for an online social networking site it is very public. Make use of any filters available. Once you put your information out there it can be difficult to take it back. 

Looking for work is hard. Being black and on the job market is even tougher. You have to be prepared, persistent and alert to opportunities when they arise. We know it ain’t gonna be easy and we know why. While you’re out there you need to make sure your game is tight.

Now you know.

 Top Ten Job Sites according to  AboutCareers.com

1) Careerbuilder.com

2) Dice.com

3) Glassdoor.com

4) Indeed.com

5) LinkedIn.com

6.) LinkUp.com

7) Monster.com

8) US.jobs


10) TweetMyJobs.com


Blacks in Technology

Ask anyone who knows  and they will tell you that black people are difficult to find in the technology industry. Silicon Valley has a color problem and its really no secret. But there are blacks in technology. 

As matter of fact Wayne Sutton, formerly of  NewMe accelerator and founder of PitchTo, believes African-Americans all over the nation are active in the technology industry. The problem is that no one knows or have heard about them.

Businessinsider.com published a 2013 article highlighting the most influential black people in the technology industry. These black men and women are thriving in the heart of the technology industry in many various roles. We need to know who they are and what they are doing.

You may ask why? Because even though we are under-represented black people are present in the technology industry. And because we are present we have an influence on whats happening. And technology is whats happening, make no mistake about that. 

According to Inquirer.net Apple Computer, the sweetheart of Silicon Valley, employs mostly white and Asian men. The website reports that Apple Computer employees  are made up of 54% white males and 23% Asian men making on average $100,000 annually. Currently 80% of Apples employees worldwide are men. In their defense most major technology companies do not hide or deny the problem.

Google, the worlds most powerful search engine, released its employee diversity numbers  last week.The numbers clearly indicate the seriousness of the problem. The Google report revealed only 30% of the company’s employees globally are women. Only 35% in the United States are non-white. Asians make up 30% of non-whites at the company.

Silicon Valley management positions are nearly devoid of minorities and women. Wayne has written about the problem of gender imbalance in his Wall Street Journal Blog.   Wayne stated; “Three words keep coming to my mind as I think about why there is a gender imbalance: money, power and respect.”  

But as I have said before its not always the technology company’s fault. Blacks and minorities suffer the curse of not coming prepared for the jobs the technology industry offers.  And who’s fault is that? There are few African-Americans in college majoring in IT or computer or software engineering.

According to a 2013 New York Times Report nearly one half of the nation’s workforce are women. Unfortunately they take up only 26% of science, technology, engineering or math jobs according to the U.S. Census Bureau. African-Americans make up  just 11% of the workforce but hold only 6%  of technology jobs. Hispanics are 15 % of the work force but are only 7 % of the technology work force.  Women and minorities have made progress in science and math in the last several decades. But this progress has been slow. In the technology sector and the rapidly growing field of computer science, women’s slice of the pie has actually shrunk in the past 20 years, while other  minorities saw only small gains.

The question remains; how will this issue be addressed? The website Thinkprogress.org has an interesting article outlining some possible solutions to making the nations technology heart a little more colorful.

The African-American Cyber Report believes that technology is taking a greater and greater role in the life of black people. And we need to find our place in the technology industry. But that does not mean that we are always welcome. There has been some talk of discrimination in the great Silicon Valley. We have to fight for our place at the table and the the technology industry is no different. Black people can only take our place in the technology industry if we prepare ourselves. So if we are not educating our children to take their place in the technology field we can’t expect things to change. Can we?

Now you know.