Obama Announces New Initiative For Fast-Tracking Tech Workforce

A new initiative called TechHire could change the way the tech industry recruits, hires, and trains workers.

Obama Announces New Initiative For Fast-Tracking Tech Workforce
[Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]

In an announcement today, President Barack Obama introduced a new initiative focusing on the technology sector as a solution to the country’s stalled wages.


Called TechHire, the program includes commitments from 300 employers—including Google, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs—as well as local governments in 20 regions to encourage, train, and hire for new tech positions.

The average salary in information technology is 50% higher than the average private-sector American job, according to the White House–and of the 5 million jobs open today, half a million are in software development, network administration, and cybersecurity.

Although the job-creation streak of the last year has moved at a clip of more than 200,000 jobs per month, the needle for the national wage average has barely moved. Average hourly earnings rose by just 44 cents over the last 12 months. The Obama administration hopes that by training Americans in tech sector skills through universities, community colleges, coding bootcamps, and online courses, more people will get to work as quickly as possible in high-paying tech roles.

TechHire’s key elements, according to a release out today, include:

  • Communities including New York, St. Louis, Detroit, and rural Eastern Kentucky will work with employers on recruiting and training workers in months, not years. Some of these employers include Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Google, Citibank, and Bank of America.
  • A $100 million grant is available through the Department of Labor to support companies that train and hire lower-skilled front line workers, as well as the unemployed, who face barriers to these jobs. These include people with child-care responsibilities, the disabled, and those with limited English proficiency. The grants, to be awarded next year, will support accelerated learning, work-based learning, and Registered Apprenticeships.
  • Private-sector accelerated training companies including Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Microsoft, Treehouse Island, Inc., and Udacity pledge free or discounted training slots for underserved communities and individuals. General Assembly plans to help community colleges and employers standardize web development training. Full lists of employers, participating communities, and partnerships are found on the TechHire website.

An interesting aspect of the TechHire initiative is the attention given to rural, working-class America, alongside cities that are already growing tech innovation hubs. In middle Tennessee, for example, there are more than 1,300 open tech positions as of 2014–a growth of 428 new jobs from the previous year, according to The Tennessean. Breaking away from the typical pedigree and career path of the Silicon Valley stereotype, this initiative could open doors to workers who might otherwise be overlooked, in a time when the country can’t afford to let economic or social barriers waste potential.


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Freelance tech, science and culture writer. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.