Overheard

Charles Phillips on providing equitable access for all tech talent and entrepreneurs

Innovators share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021
By Laura Aka
October 18, 2021

There is a crucial need for equitable access to jobs for all technology talent and creators, according to Charles Phillips, managing partner and co-founder at Recognize. As an executive of a technology services investment platform, Phillips says, “I wanted to do something not only to obviously stay close to technology, but something that would create a lot of well-paying jobs. That’s another passion of mine—workforce development and giving people access to jobs.”

WorkingNation sat down with Phillips at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021 in Beverly Hills as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard interview series. With Charting a New Course as the guiding theme, thought leaders and innovators shared ideas about the changing economy, worker development, education, tech, philanthropy, and more.

“There are millions of people with aptitude that don’t have access. We have a shortage of workers in the country,” Phillips tells us, and that means many employers need to rethink how they hire.

“There are many situations in companies in which I saw a person who does not have a college degree retiring, but all of a sudden to get that job you have to have a college degree. For people of color—particularly Black people when 74% of us do not have college degrees—that’s a whole segment of the workforce being left out.”

Phillips also notes that entrepreneurial drive is an important factor in the economic recovery. He says, ”Roughly, half the jobs in the U.S. are from small businesses and in communities of color, particularly the Black community. We’ve always been entrepreneurial because we had to be. We had to create things. We didn’t have access to the same jobs. There’s a long history and culture of that.”

To that end, Phillips is working to make that access available through the Center for Black Entrepreneurship at two historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs)—Spelman and Morehouse—“to produce, train, and support a new class of Black entrepreneurial talent.”

Phillips, himself a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia, says there is potential for expansion of this entrepreneurial programming. “If we’re successful, we’ll take it to other HBCUs. There will also be an online component to this. A tremendous amount of people want to be entrepreneurs and just need the infrastructure that other people have when they are in Silicon Valley.”

Click here to learn more about Recognize.

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