Why I’m Excited About President Obama’s TechHire Program

In case you missed it, this week President Obama launched the TechHire Initiative. Funded through the Department of Labor, TechHire is an ambitious effort that makes $100 million available in grants to train workers for technology related jobs.

“TechHire is a bold multi-sector effort and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding bootcamps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job, often in just a few months. Employers across the United States are in critical need of talent with these skills,” said the Fact Sheet announcing the program.

TechHire specifically seeks to support new approaches to training employees who face barriers to accessing education or acquiring new skills. The program should help workers move into better paying positions in high-growth industries like healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and financial services.

“Grants will pilot and scale innovative partnerships between employers, workforce boards, training institutions, non-profit organizations, and cities and states across the country. These partnerships will support the implementation of job-driven training strategies to help workers complete basic and technical skills training using evidence-based strategies such as accelerated learning, work-based learning and Registered Apprenticeships,” said the Fact Sheet.

The program comes at a time when we’ve seen some bright spots in our economy. Take for instance that in February, the economy created 300,000 jobs and American companies have added 200,000 jobs per month for the past year. The Fact Sheetnotes that this is the longest streak of job creation at that pace in 37 years. Additionally, over the past five years, businesses have created 12 million new jobs.

Not bad data at all, and certainly some indicators that we are going through an economic resurgence. But, there is still much more work to do, especially training our workforce. To continue to witness more job creation and a stronger economy, employers need the confidence that American workers have the necessary skills to fill available positions. TechHire should help.

I’m excited to see this kind of program launch now, especially with so many jobs in the IT field, which are becoming essential to keep America safe and secure. Positions like cybersecurity, network administration and software development are now critical positions, and in high demand.

Hopefully with TechHire, we can begin to close not just employers confidence gap, but the skills gap to add more talent into the job applicant pool. Armed with new skills, workers can break through barriers to become competitive for higher paying positions. If TechHire works, it’s win-win for everyone. The Fact Sheet breaks down the key elements of TechHire:

  • “Over twenty forward-leaning communities are committing to take action – working with each other and with national employers – to expand access to tech jobs. To kick off TechHire, 20 regions, with over 120,000 open technology jobs and more than 300 employer partners in need of this workforce, are announcing plans to work together to new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their actual skills and to create more fast track tech training opportunities. The President is challenging other communities across the country to follow their lead.
  • $100 million in new Federal investments to train and connect more workers to a good job in technology and other in-demand fields. The Administration will launch a $100 million H-1B grant competition by the Department of Labor to support innovative approaches to training and successfully employing low-skill individuals with barriers to training and employment including those with childcare responsibilities, people with disabilities, disconnected youth, and limited English proficient workers, among others. This grant competition will support the scaling up of evidence-based strategies such as accelerated learning, work-based learning, and Registered Apprenticeships.
  • Private sector boosts tools and resources to support and expand continued innovation in technology training, with a focus on reaching under-served populations. Private sector leaders are announcing commitments to provide free training through online training slots and expanding “coding bootcamps” – which provide intensive training for well-paying jobs, often in the course of just a few months – to low-income and underserved Americans including women, minorities, and veterans across the nation. National organizations are committing to work with interested cities to share job and skills information, job-matching tools, and other resources to help support the growth, adoption, and creation of promising practices across the United States.”

4 Examples of TechHire Community Commitments

Many communities have already hit the ground running. Below are four examples. They are the early leaders, and doing some innovative work to train the American workforce.

  • “St. Louis, MO. A network of over 150 employers in St. Louis’ rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem will build on a successful Mastercard pilot to partner with local non-profit Launchcode, to build the skills of women and underrepresented minorities for tech jobs, and will also place 250 apprentices in jobs in 2015 at employers like Monsanto, CitiBank, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Anheuser Busch.
  • New York City, NY. With employers including Microsoft, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Google, and Facebook, the Tech Talent Pipeline is announcing new commitments to prepare college students in the City University of New York (CUNY) system for and connect them to paid internship opportunities at local tech companies. NYC will also expand successful models like the NYC Web Development Fellowship serving 18-26 year olds without a college degree in partnership with the Flatiron School.
  • State of Delaware. The new Delaware TechHire initiative is committing to training entry-level developers in a new accelerated coding bootcamp and Java and .Net accelerated community college programs giving financial institutions and healthcare employers, throughout the state, access to a new cohort of skilled software talent in a matter of months. JP Morgan Chase, Capital One and others are committing to placing people trained in these programs this year.
  • Louisville, KY. Louisville has convened over 20 IT employers as part of the Code Louisville initiative to train and place new software developers, including Glowtouch, Appriss, Humana, Zirmed, and Indatus. Louisville will build on this work in support of the TechHire Initiative: the city will recruit a high-quality coding bootcamp to Louisville and establish a new partnership between Code Louisville and local degree granting institutions to further standardize employer recognition of software development skillsets.”

TechHire is a great chance for communities to transform their local economies, and help provide much needed relief to workers who wish to access training and enter into higher paying fields.

Photo credit: Lending Memo

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