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White House Announces TechHire Initiative to Boost IT Workforce

The White House today announced a new initiative to train more Americans for careers in the IT workforce.

The program, dubbed TechHire, is a multi-pronged approach to addressing what many feel is a shortage of workers in IT.

The initiative will include a $100 million H-1B grant competition by the Department of Labor to support training and employment programs for low-skill individuals with barriers to training such as disabilities and child care responsibilities. The initiative will also involve private-sector companies who have committed to offering free online training and coding bootcamps to low-income Americans, women, minorities and veterans.

The final element of TechHire involves communities and businesses around the country working together to expand access to tech jobs by recruiting and placing applicants based on their skills and fast tracking tech-training opportunities.

"Right now America has more job openings than at any point since 2001," President Barack Obama said in remarks today at the National Leagues of Cities 2015 Congressional City Conference. "That's good news. We've got a lot of job openings. Here's the catch - over half a million of those jobs are technology jobs."

Many of those jobs are in non high-tech industries such as healthcare or banking, meaning they are in every geographic corner of the country – not just tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Obama said.

"What's more a lot of these jobs don't require a four-year degree in computer science," Obama said. "They don't require you be an engineer. Folks can get the skills they need for these jobs in newer, streamlined, faster training programs. What's more, these tech jobs pay 50 percent more than the average private sector wage - which means they're a ticket into the middle class."

As an example, in New York City the Tech Talent Pipeline program is working with companies such as Microsoft, Verizon and Facebook 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.

There's no industry that has not been touched by the technology revolution, Obama told the audience.

"What's more - a lot of these jobs don't require a four-year degree in computer science," he said. "They don't require you be an engineer. Folks can get the skills they need for these jobs in newer, streamlined, faster training programs."

"If we're not producing enough tech workers, over time that's going to threaten our leadership in global innovation, which is the bread and butter of the 21st century economy," he said.

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