Logo_SciTech Now

PBS’s SciTech Now series shed new light on a  IT phenomenon called “Urban Onshoring” movement and how Information Technology is changing to support the evolving Tech economy.

SciTech Now, the show is hosted by PBS’s Hari Srinivasian. It’s a show that focuses on science and technology trends and brings in guests that are subject matter experts in various areas. Episode 29 is of particular interest because it hits a nerve regarding why so many IT jobs were sent offshore over the past 20 years and how the trend may be shifting.

Startup Box_Tester
Leon Sterling – QA Tester at StartUp Box and gamer.

The term Urban Onshoring was referenced by a new startup company called Start Up Box in the South Bronx, NY. While urban gamers didn’t have skills to code, they did play the games enough to understand how they work (or should work) which is a foundational aspect of Quality Assurance (QA). QA is a function, similar to Development in the IT lifecycle that validates software performs as expected and removes “bugs” or “glitches” before being released to the public.

Why was QA offshored and why is it coming back is a great question. “The tech economy” is changing” noted Prasanna Tambe, Associate Professor at NYU Stern Scholl of Business. New software delivery processes known as “agile, or rapid development SciTech_Now_Episode 29_2alongside iterative development and continuous integration are opening the doors for local expertise that is hard to support from places like India and the Philippines.””Also, as the technology changes, so do the skills, stated Professor Tambe. Given the high levels of youth unemployment today, high schools around the country are now treating computer science as a core competency for high school students. Given todays “internet of things” and the digital presence of smartphones, all companies, and many personal behaviors are now it the digital sphere….and the kids know it.

Development and Tech Boot Camps are becoming more popular in urban zones because it’s offering opportunity to learn new skills quickly. Places like Edison and Islin, New Jersey have been doing this for decades since the pre-Y2K IT boom, teaching landed immigrants QA and Development skills in community centers and temples.

Urban IT
Start Up Box CEO Majora Carter

Start Up Box Start Up Box in the South Bronx one entrepreneural example T3 applauds for thinking outside the box (no pun) and recognizing the opportunity. It’s entrepreneur in it’s capitalistic nature, but they’re addressing two problems that are long overdue to solve – bringing skills to urban areas, and addressing the shift of offshoring back onshore. These new jobs are two decades in the making because computational thinking and understanding how computer algorithms work is key to survival in our new tech economy. The US government agencies should now look at this example and help seed the effort. IT jobs are now relevant to ALL businesses and the Urban Onshoring is a term that’s long overdue in IT. As the tech economy moves ahead, we applaud efforts like this. Best of luck Start Up Box.


SciTech_Now_Episode 29
Click the embedded video above  to watch Episode 29 of SciTech with Hari Sreenvasan

SciTech now can be seen on PBS stations nationwide – visit their website, YouTube Channel, or various social media outlets. Click Here to Watch Episode 29 if the embed for some reason changes.

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