July 6, 1998
CONTACT: Sallianne Fortunato
(202) 482-7002

WASHINGTON, DC - "No issue is more important than ensuring that our communities, particularly our children, obtain access to new technologies and become technologically literate," said Assistant Secretary Larry Irving in remarks to the National Urban League and the National Leadership Council on Civil Rights Urban Technology Summit on Friday, June 26th, at the National Press Club.

The conference brought together policy makers, corporate leaders, and educators to discuss the various issues, priorities and opportunities related to the access and use of information and communication technologies by urban communities. The half-day summit featured two panels. The first panel featured leaders of major civil rights organizations discussing critical information and communications technology policy issues. The second panel featured community-based organizations, academia, government and industry groups addressing the impact of information and technology on education, economics and social responsibility.

In his speech, Assistant Secretary Irving discussed the value of acquiring technology skills to compete in today's technology-driven global economy. "Our challenge is to educate our students and communities so that they can successfully participate in this high-tech economy. Other countries recognize the value of computer training to their children's education and their economic growth. Yet in this country, a significant portion of our children -- particularly those in low-income and minority communities -- simply are not receiving the training they need to prepare themselves for the high-tech future," noted Larry Irving in his remarks. "This 'digital divide' between information 'haves' and 'have nots' will stunt the development of our urban communities, if we let it continue."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that between 1996 and 2006, the United States will require more than 1.3 million computer scientists and engineers, systems analysts, and computer programmers. The number of jobs in the information sector is greatly outpacing the number of skilled workers in this area. At least 10 percent of the jobs in the high-tech industry remains unfilled. Assistant Secretary Irving also talked about ongoing efforts by the Administration to reduce the technology gap between affluent and low-income communities. For more information, please call NTIA's Office of Public Affairs at 202-482-7002. Information is also available at