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2022 Grants Challenge

Data Science Internship Program

This grant will support a new internship capstone program for emerging data scientists from under-resourced Los Angeles communities. To address the significant workforce shortage in data science and promote a more diverse workforce in this growing field, UCLA Extension will create a sustainable pathway for students who complete the data science certificate to gain experience and build a portfolio of transferable skills in order to secure well-paying entry level jobs in Los Angeles.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Income Inequality

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

“Data scientists, data engineers and business analysts are among the most sought-after positions in America. Yet, many existing and emerging workers don't have the full skillset employers need.” (Source: Price Waterhouse Cooper) Research cites shortages of up to 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers and analysts with skills to make decisions based on the analysis of big data, and projects 13 percent growth in these areas. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor and McKinsey & Company) Further, there are fewer women and minorities pursuing careers in data science than other technical roles (Source: Forbes) The growing trend for employers to expect prior work experience for entry-level jobs is compounding these issues. An analysis of 3.8 million job postings since 2017 suggests this is the new norm. (Source: LinkedIn) We propose a solution that will address the workforce shortage and promote a more diverse workforce, thereby promoting equity within Los Angeles.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

We seek to expand an existing UCLA Extension certificate in data science to offer a capstone internship course to students completing these studies under a grant-funded initiative, UCLAxCareerBridge. The mission of UCLAxCareerBridge is to provide adults from diverse communities access to professional training to prepare for careers in fields of high growth and high need. A grant from the University of California’s Office of the President enables us to offer the certificate at no cost to UCLAxCareerBridge students and thereby extend access to programming to more diverse populations by removing financial barriers. If funded, our proposed expansion will offer the following to these students at no-cost to close the gap that exists for applicants to entry-level jobs in data science who have the necessary skills but lack relevant experience: Placement into an internship and enrollment in a supervised internship capstone course, bi-weekly meetings with an industry expert instructor, development of a portfolio that demonstrates relevant experience and transferrable skills, individualized career advising and support, access to job readiness workshops and job search platforms and resources, support from a student advisor, and job placement tracking and starting salary tracking for one year after completion. Additionally, we intend to create a sustainable network and pathway with employers for diversifying the data science workforce and promoting equity throughout LA.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our long-term vision of impact is to promote economic mobility within under-resourced Los Angeles communities and to diversify the workforce of a growing, well-paying industry experiencing significant job shortages. The average annual pay for an entry level data scientist job in Los Angeles is $64,742, significantly above the general average starting salary rate in Los Angeles of $35,604 (Source: ZipRecruiter). However, women and under-represented minorities are not pursuing these roles. Synthesizing these data, we see an opportunity to immediately develop a pipeline to address the workforce shortage with diverse candidates from under-represented communities, provide the training and real world experience at no-cost to reduce barriers and better position these candidates to secure entry level jobs, increase awareness in their communities about this growing field, and create a sustainable pathway for an increasing number of diverse applicants to enter this field in LA.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

As an extension to an existing certificate program, we will measure success on short- and long-term goals. Short-term metrics of success to be evaluated in October 2023 will include having at least 5 participating employers, 40 student enrollments in the internship, and 85% student completion of the internship with portfolios showcasing their experience. We also seek to place at least 85% of graduates into entry-level positions by October 2024. Long-term measures of success will include increases year over year in employer participation and student applications from underrepresented communities, as well as completions, and job placements. This will demonstrate increased awareness and interest within the targeted communities and commitment from employers to diversify their workforce, and it will establish a sustainable pathway to achieve this goal. We also hope to track graduates’ starting salaries, with a goal to demonstrate increase in wages.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 40

Indirect Impact: 1,000