Networks to Nerdistan: The Role of Labor Market Intermediaries in the Entry‐level IT Labor Market


Although networks have long governed economic relations, they assume even more importance in a knowledge‐based economy. Yet, some argue that because of the lack of social networks and human capital, some groups are permanently ‘switched off’ the networks of the global economy. Evidence presented in this article suggests that instead there is latent potential for access to the network, due to the rise of networked community‐based organizations and the increasing accessibility of technology. Based on surveys and in‐depth interviews with almost 700 workers and training providers, I show how the switched off are entering jobs in information technology through network ties and the acquisition of soft skills, or communication and interaction skills. Although community‐based training providers are best positioned to help disadvantaged jobseekers enter the network society, changes in the US workforce development system are reinforcing network exclusivity, rather than facilitating this upward mobility.