Despite high unemployment rates and heavy competition in the job market, reports show that technology jobs are trending as highly available. Not only are they available, they are generally higher-paying than jobs in most industries. Demand for technology professionals has exploded since 2009. Most executives in the tech industry report planning continued expansion as they build mobile apps, enhance security, convert to cloud systems, and target e-commerce. Careers in the field are expected to grow between 20 and 40 percent over the next 10 years.
Over the last 35 years, the US Hispanic demographic has grown by roughly 38 million and is increasing at a rate of at least one million per year. The group is now the country’s largest ethnic minority, 53 million-strong. It seems only natural to Andre Arbelaez that the fastest-growing minority group should have the skills to enter the fastest-growing workforce.
Advisors, including execs from Oracle, HP, and Cisco
It’s Arbelaez’s job to connect and equip Latinos in technology fields. He is the president of the Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council, also known as HITEC. The organization, created in 2006, exists to empower the Hispanic community thorough the convergence of IT and leadership.
“We like to say it’s a process of pushing up and pulling up,” Arbelaez explains. “We push business leaders in middle and upper management to give them higher visibility while simultaneously looking back to pull up the Hispanic IT pipeline.” HITEC builds that pipeline through partnerships with schools and organizations. Arbelaez and his partners encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers and have members recruit those students.
Thanks to some of Arbelaez’s efforts, HITEC’s board of directors has attracted some impressive partners. This year, corporate sponsors include Comcast, Cisco, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, Bank of America, Lowes, GM, and Accenture. Its board comprises executives from AT&T, Procter & Gamble, Facebook, Verizon, and other top companies that program HITEC events. “We offer networking and discussions on items that are impacting corporate America, Hispanics in IT, and key trends in technology,” says Arbelaez.
The outlook for Latinos in technology is improving as a variety of programs swing the doors wide open. HITEC works with senior IT leaders, business development groups, diversity inclusion units, and talent acquisition teams to lobby for its members.
“Corporate America is aware that Latinos are one in six today and by 2050 we will be one in three,” Arbelaez says. “They want their employees to reflect the American population and understand that hiring Hispanic professionals helps companies attract and understand today’s consumers. Being Hispanic was not valued before the 2000 census. Now, it’s an asset.”
2014 will be a year of expansion. HITEC has begun the process of opening international chapters and named Prince Felipe of Asturias the first honorary member of HITEC Spain. “This will help connect Spain’s business professionals with Silicon Valley and Latin America to create synergies between the old world and the new world,” Arbelaez says.
His group is also working to develop a foundation that will give scholarships for young Latinos pursuing careers in the STEM fields. By doing so, the organization will deepen its efforts to equip the next generation that will lead the way in information technology.
View the complete 2014 Top 100 HITEC Awardee list here.