2 min read February 2023 — In an interview with Invest:, Larry Williams, president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), talked about some of TAG’s key milestones and initiatives over the last year and what the organization is doing to bolster STEM education, advance the tech sector and advocate for its members.
What have been some key milestones for TAG over the last 12 months?
It has been an exciting year for TAG, as we have been able to come out of the pandemic stronger than ever before. Our events are all back in person, and, in particular, we’ve had great success with Fintech South, the TAGit Golf Tournament and Georgia Technology Summit. In addition, we’ve launched some significant programs and expanded our TAG education collaborative (TAG-Ed). We continue to focus on certain areas of STEAM education and workforce development, specifically for careers that don’t require four-year degrees. TAG-Ed is currently hosting a statewide apprenticeship program to help reskill and upskill people so they can meet the demands of today’s workforce. And, now in its second year, our Pathways to Leadership initiative connects young professionals with industry experts and executives so they can prepare to step up as current leaders begin to retire.
Furthermore, one of our key milestones this year was the launch of our Bridge Builders program, which aims to create an equitable technology workforce more representative of Georgia’s population.
How important is STEM education for the tech sector?
It is extremely important, which is why we help the Georgia Department of Education map out the different career paths available to students, many of which are often largely unexplored. At the same time, experiential learning is gaining more and more attention for tech professionals. And, as a result, internships and apprenticeships have become essential ways for candidates to make themselves stand out in the labor market. This practical experience allows people to not only gain those crucial technical skills but also learn how to communicate effectively and flex their creativity.
What are key aspects to attracting new talent to the tech sector?
People understand the importance of technology, but the key to attracting new talent is connecting them with the career paths that they can not only build upon but they also have a personal interest in. For example, for students who are interested in industries like e-sports and music, we introduce them to the jobs that help make those things possible. We want to paint a complete picture of the opportunities that are out there when it comes to tech.
How has demand for cybersecurity changed or evolved?
The demand only continues to grow, but where things have evolved is in the policy aspect of cybersecurity technologies. As such, our role is to advocate for the voice of the private sector. The threats we have to our systems could have far-reaching impacts should things fail. It only takes one time for cyber criminals to cause lasting damage, but, on our end, we must stay vigilant 24/7, which is where the challenge really lies.
What is the state of Atlanta’s tech sector?
Atlanta’s tech scene is booming, thanks in large part to the infrastructure work that has been done over the last few decades, such as the installation of large broadband networks. People are flocking here for the world-class technical colleges and higher education institutions that prepare students to enter the workforce. And more and more, tech giants like Microsoft, Google, AWS, Cisco and FanDuel are setting up shop in Atlanta to gain access to our incredible pool of talent.
What is the next big tech subsector?
Automation, including robotics, is currently leading the way, with data science following closely behind. And predictive analytics are a huge part of data science, which can be of monumental importance to the healthcare industry to accelerate the prognosis of symptoms and get results faster.
What are some efforts being made to make broadband more accessible to rural and underserved communities?
We are advocating with the state government for the expansion of broadband since that has become a necessity in today’s world. We would like to partner with the private sector, so it is affordable for companies to make this investment and provide the necessary infrastructure.
How are you creating an inclusive and equitable tech ecosystem?
Our goal with Bridge Builders is to promote diversity and inclusion throughout Georgia. Our goal is to help Black professionals advance into senior-level positions and connect Black founders with the resources they need to succeed. As such, we created TAG Connect to provide a space for Black tech entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas shark-tank style to corporate decision-makers. Finally, the National Technology Security Coalition, which TAG helped launch almost seven years ago, has hosted several workshops around the country as well as our first international roundtable in London earlier this year.
What is the outlook for TAG over the next two to three years?
It’s clear that there are countless opportunities for the technology industry right here in Georgia and as a result, our growth will continue to outpace the national average. I guarantee you will see some of the most exciting tech evolutions through our startups and established companies alike that you won’t see anywhere else.
Our top priorities are to continue to set our members up for success and prepare the highest quality workforce for them.
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