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Digital divide is 'a serious issue': Gerald Chertavian

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Gerald Chertavian, Year Up founder & CEO, joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss how the pandemic has widened the opportunity gap in the United States.

Video Transcript

- What about access to broadband internet? I'm sure that's something that you guys have wrestled with over the past year. How big of an impediment is that, and what sort of solutions do you envision there?

GERALD CHERTAVIAN: Yeah, broadband is a big impediment if not solved. Our young adults are consuming education online every day. So we had to put in place point-to-point MiFi connections to allow those young adults to have access to broadband. But it's a serious issue.

And solutions that provide greater broadband access, especially for low income communities and rural communities, to me, is absolutely critical because the way in which we're gaining information, education, knowledge is through a connection, is through the internet. And so we've got to address that as a country, that infrastructural element of our country, to assure that that playing field is more level for folks to use the tools we have today to live their lives.

- What sort of skills and coursework are most important for young people today, Gerald? Is it all about STEM or are there other things as well?

GERALD CHERTAVIAN: Health care is a huge industry. Sales and customer service is a function that's going to keep growing and evolving. Clearly, technology, financial services. But I think if you look below sometimes at the jobs, look at the competencies. Being a good project manager, understanding process management. These are competencies that are growing in our society. Able to communicate in a complex environment, have empathy, have compassion to manage customers.

So if you look broadly, what are the competencies that are growing and where the very complex communications, critical thinking, problems that can't be solved well with a computer, that's going to continue to grow. But we're going to have to help our citizenry to gain those skills to be productive and to be as valuable as they can be in our society. We place folks in the across-- goodness-- whole suite of technology areas, from cybersecurity, data analytics, software engineering, help desk support. We also train people to be scrum masters for agile development. We train project managers, back office financing operations. We go where the market is in order to ensure our young adults have access to good jobs. And we will shift what we train in depending on how that market continues to shift over time.