KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the Kansas City area’s biggest employers is going out of its way to make its new talent more diverse and give their new hires a unique training experience.

H&R Block’s IT Accelerate program welcomes its second group on Monday after the first group started in January. The goal is to give participants a deep understanding of what the company does so they can better understand where technology fits into the mission of the business.

“I think the best thing about this program is just the network that you have from the first day,” said Manish Chaganti, who started in January.

It helps address a growing challenge that businesses in virtually all industries face: a growing reliance on technology to work in the 21st Century.

“There are so many opportunities for development in [tech] but there aren’t enough people graduating with technical degrees to fill those roles,” Chaganti said.

It’s one of the big reasons H&R Block’s VP of Corporate Systems and Technology Enablement Kirstin Slepicka says the IT Accelerate program was created.

“It just gives us the ability to build our own technology talent versus finding that one specific expert that gets plopped in, that has 20 years of experience,” Slepicka said. “These are people who can really adapt and drive the transformation from within.”

Half of the Accelerate class is either gender or ethnically diverse, helping push back on a tech industry that has lacked diversity in the past.

Pew Research found that women made up only about a quarter of computer jobs while the U.S. Equal Economic Opportunity Commission found Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations made up only 16 percent of tech jobs.

H&R Block’s effort comes as other metro businesses have been joining the CEO-to-CEO Challenge, where they pledge to make a special effort to do business with small and diverse-owned businesses around the metro, trying to help their bottom lines.