The Obama administration is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to investing in tech education projects.
On June 27, the U.S. government released $150 million in Department of Labor grants for 39 tech-related partnerships across the country. Using these funds, awardees will launch innovative training and placement models to develop tech talent as a way to keep and create jobs in local economies.
In addition to the federal funding, grantees are using nearly $50 million in philanthropic, private and other funding to contribute to their own local partnerships.
President Obama (pictured with Google CEO Sundar Pichai at Stanford June 24) referenced these grants and the TechHire program at his appearance June 24 at Stanford University. You can read an account of that presentation here.
A Large and Growing Opportunity for Local Economies
Having a pipeline of tech talent can be an important factor in bringing new jobs to local economies, facilitating business growth and lifting more local residents into the middle class. These grants will enable more communities to expand their own local tech sectors, Obama said.
Some data points on this topic offered by the White House include the following:
–Tech jobs are a pathway to the middle class. Tech jobs pay one and a half times the average wage of a private-sector job. Studies have shown that these opportunities are also accessible to those without college degrees—men and women with non-degree certificates in computer or information services earned more than 65 percent of men and women, respectively, with more traditional associate degrees.
–There is a large and growing unmet demand for tech workers. At the present time, there are more than 600,000 open IT jobs across all sectors—more than two-thirds in fields outside the tech sector, such as manufacturing, financial services and health care. Across the country, employers are struggling to find skilled talent for these positions.
A study from the Corporate Executive Board found that in 10 major metropolitan areas (including New York, Atlanta, Seattle, and Houston), there are only five skilled job seekers available for every eight open IT jobs. Compared to 2010, it now takes employers five additional weeks to fill the average vacancy—at a cost to employers of $8.6 million per 1,000 vacancies.
–New innovations in training and hiring can help meet the tech job demand. Nearly 40 percent of tech jobs do not require a four-year degree. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of fast-track tech training programs like “coding bootcamps” that prepare people with little technical know-how for tech jobs, often in just a few months.
Bootcamps Proving to Be Successful Events
A recent survey from Course Report found that bootcamp graduates saw salary gains of 38 percent (or about $18,000) after completing their programs. At the same time, employers in cities such as Albuquerque have been adopting new “skills-based” hiring approaches that enable job seekers to demonstrate their skills to get hired, even if they lack traditional qualifications such as computer science degrees.
–Tech talent can be an important driver of local economic development. Companies report that one of the main factors in deciding where to locate is the availability of skilled talent. Moreover, research from economist Enrico Moretti shows that for each job in the average high-tech firm, five new jobs are indirectly created in local economies.
In response to this opportunity, Obama in March 2015 launched TechHire, a multi-sector effort and call to action for cities, states, and rural areas to work with employers to design and implement new approaches such as coding bootcamps to train workers for well-paying tech jobs often in only a few months.
Since then, 50 communities with nearly 1,000 employer partners have begun working together to find new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their skills and to create more fast-track tech training opportunities. These range from programs in New York City that connect low-income young people to tech training and internships to a program in rural Eastern Kentucky that teaches former coal miners to code.
More Details on the Announcements
The Department of Labor is awarding 39 grants—totaling $150 million—for programs in 25 states and Washington, D.C. to support innovative ways to get workers on the fastest paths to well-paying information technology and high-growth jobs in in-demand sectors like healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and financial services.
Of these grants, $126 million will specifically target strategies designed to best support young Americans ages 17 to 29.
All of the partnerships funded today engage in the following practices:
–Expand access to accelerated learning options that provide a quick path to good jobs, such as ‘bootcamp’-style programs, online options, and competency-based programs.
–Use data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring by working with employers to build robust data on where they have the greatest needs, identify what skills they are looking for, and build willingness to hire from both nontraditional and traditional training programs.
–Offer specialized training strategies, supportive services, and other participant-focused services that assist targeted populations to overcome barriers, including networking and job search, active job development, transportation, mentoring, and financial counseling.
–Emphasize inclusion by leveraging the high demand for tech jobs and new training and hiring approaches to improve access to tech jobs for all citizens, including out-of-school and out-of-work young Americans, people with disabilities, people learning English as a second language, and people with criminal records.
Grants totaling $126 million will create pathways to careers for at-risk and out-of-school, out-of-work young Americans, Obama said.
Examples of selected communities and programs include:
—Atlanta, Ga. ATL TechHire: Fostering an IT Workforce Ecosystem to Inspire Atlanta’s Under-Represented IT Workforce to Pursue IT Careers ($4 million):
ATL TechHire will train the city of Atlanta’s youth and young adults with barriers to employment and other unemployed and underemployed for open jobs in tech. Led by the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, in partnership with Iron Yard and TechSquare Labs, ATL TechHire has developed customizable training tracks to serve differing needs. Participants will be enrolled in TechSquare Labs’ innovative Culture Fit and Career Readiness programs, as well as fast-track training with one of the Iron Yard’s coding bootcamps, to train participants for jobs in front- and back-end engineering, mobile engineering, data science, and design; or with the Atlanta Technical College for degrees that lead to in-demand IT jobs.
Obama Administration Releases $150M in Grants for TechHire
—Albuquerque, NM. New Mexico Tech Connections (NMTC): Expanding Career Pipeline to IT for Youth and Disadvantaged Workers ($4 million):
Workforce Connection of Central New Mexico (WCCNM) will use grant funds to expand its NMTC consortium in order to build a career pipeline into IT for around 338 young adults and other workers with barriers to training and employment. Serving the city of Albuquerque, as well as Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia counties, NMTC consists of training and education partner College of New Mexico along with six area employers and promises to address gaps in conventional training for H-1B jobs.
—Miami, FL. ACCEL in Tech: Bringing Customized Training in IT, Healthcare and Financial Services to Those with Barriers to Employment ($3.5 million):
Acquiring Credential and Creating Experiential Learning (ACCEL) in Technology will leverage the size and resources of Miami Dade College, along with the expertise of partners including CareerSource South Florida Mount Sinai Medical Center, AHIMA Foundation, and the McKinsey Social Initiative, which will provide guidance on advisory boards, curriculum development, employee mentors, opportunities for paid work experiences, and commitments to hire participants. This program will develop customizable training for the individual. Through this initiative, more than 400 young adults with barriers to employment will gain access to training in IT, healthcare and financial services.
—New York, NY. TechIMPACT Program: Training and Placing Youth at Large Tech Companies and Startups ($3.9 million):
LaGuardia Community College will partner with General Assembly, Udacity, Software Guild and others to offer accelerated tech training to young adults in Web development, Java, and computer network support. Given that young people often struggle to connect to their first job, TechIMPACT is teaming up with partners to make sure that graduates have connections to internships and job placements when they graduate. IBM, Walmart, and other employer partners are committing to interview and hire qualified candidates, and Uncubed will place graduates with a network of high-growth startup companies.
—New York; Washington, D.C.; and Maryland. Pathways to Tech Careers: Providing Multi-Tiered Training Model to Improve Skills of Young, Low-Wage, and Veteran Workers ($5 million):
Jobs for the Future, Inc.’s program will establish and expand accelerated training programs that prepare youth and young adults with barriers to employment for high-wage, high-demand careers in IT in New York City Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County and Howard County, Md. PTC will have three tracks including a bootcamp-style, immersive Web development training, a data analytics training for incumbent workers to upskill to better jobs, and a short-term IT security program for veterans. PTC will build on the national presence of JFF, General Assembly, and Per Scholas to demonstrate multiple strategies to move individuals from entry-level jobs into the middle-class with tech training.
—Seattle, WA. TechHire Seattle-King County: Implementing LaunchCode’s Successful Apprenticeship Model ($3.8 million):
Seattle Central College will work with the LaunchCode Foundation, EnergySavvy, Unloop, Floodgate, Ada Developer Academy and other partners to connect young Americans to jobs in database administration and development, mobile product development, network design and administration, programming, Web design, and Web development training. To increase opportunities for employers to find high-quality, diverse, entry-level talent, and for students to learn on the job, LaunchCode will connect students at no cost to the student with companies that will offer mentorship and training through a paid apprenticeship program, with the option for employers to hire the student at the end of the 3-6 month apprenticeship. Launchcode has successfully launched and grown this model in four U.S. cities, achieving 90 percent placement rates and more than doubling salaries of participants. Seattle is leveraging $4.4 million in philanthropic and private contributions to support this initiative.
$24 million in grants will connect people with criminal records, people with limited English
proficiency and people with disabilities to in-demand jobs, the White House said.
Examples of these selected communities and programs include:
—Indianapolis, Ind. GOAL! Program: Expanding Language and Technical Skills for LEP Individuals ($3.2 million):
Led by the Labor Institute for Training (LIFT), in partnership with Jobs for the Future and Indiana Adult Education, Growing Opportunities in America for Latinos! (GOAL!) will enhance and expand services throughout the state of Indiana. The program will enhance and expand English language and advanced manufacturing technical skills for 400 residents with limited English proficiency. Incumbent workers will also have access to upskill opportunities through the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) registered apprenticeship, leveraging the American Apprenticeship Initiative grant awarded by the Department of Labor to Jobs for the Future.
—Kern, Inyo, and Mono Counties, Calif. Next Step Program: Offering Skills Training to Individuals with High-Function Autism Spectrum Disorders ($4 million):
The Exceptional Family Center, the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Bakersfield Adult School will collaborate with local employers and partners to train local individuals with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders for open jobs. Geared toward those with documented barriers to training and employment, the Next Step Job Training and Employment Partnership (Next Step) will offer courses at UCLA Extension and Bakersfield Adult School in computer skills, vocational education, and medical coding. The partnership will also offer a bootcamp training on soft skills to improve employabilityj and job performance—including effective communication, workplace behavior, and independent living.
$36 Million Goes to Rural Communities
Of the $150 million in grants, $36 million have been awarded to programs that will specifically target rural communities that are serving young people and other disadvantaged populations described in the sections above.
Examples of selected communities and programs include:
—Midlands Region of S.C. Midlands TechHire: Offering Numerous Boot Camps, Scholarships and Internships in Networking and Programming ($4 million)
Midlands Technical College will offer scholarships to 400 individuals for five accelerated learning boot camps that will train students for networking and programming occupations, such as computer technicians and Web development, in six to eight weeks. Along with the wide range of technical training programs offered, Midlands TechHire will provide exam preparation for certifications, as well as classes and workshops in soft skills and job readiness. Graduates of these accelerated training programs will qualify for sponsorship of exam fees and paid three-month internships in IT occupations. With assistance from 24 grant partners, Midlands TechHire will be able to provide a comprehensive assessment of barriers and customized support services for each student.
—West Virginia. WVTTI: Transforming Local Economy by Training and Upgrading Young Adults for New Tech jobs in Software and Engineering ($4 million)
With its West Virginia Technology Transformation Initiative (WVTTI), Bridge Valley Community and Technical College is helping transform this once coal-dependent regional economy into a technology-based one. WVTTI is specifically focused on helping the young adult population find jobs as software developers, mechanical engineers, and machinists, among other opportunities. By leveraging this grant and facilitating relationships among local training providers, workforce organizations, and employers such as the Appalachian Power Company, the WVTTI will expand efforts to help young West Virginians upgrade their skills and gain the credentials needed to obtain middle- and high-skill jobs.