TECHHIRE: THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN JOBS?
Thursday, November 05, 2015
In March, President Obama announced plans for a new, multi-sector workforce development program known as the “TechHire Initiative.”
According to the President the Department of Labor planned to dedicate $100 million (collected from H-1B visa fees) towards a new competitive grant competition.
Its aim? Promoting the comeback of an ever shrinking middle class through training and education programs that would enable Americans to earn higher wages.
At the time of the President’s notice, more than half a million jobs laid vacant, specifically within Information Technology (IT) career pathways. Software development, network administration, and cybersecurity were just a few of the fields mentioned that currently have a higher demand for staffing than there are trained workers to fill positions.
Moreover, regardless of sector (manufacturing, retail, advertising, banking), the average salary for a job requiring IT skills is 50% higher than the average private-sector job. That’s where the TechHire Initiative comes in.
Simply put, the main goal of TechHire is to create pathways to better, higher paying technology jobs in order to meet the urgent demands of IT employers across the nation.
Specifically, TechHire grants will support innovative approaches to IT training as well as the successful employment of Americans in technology and other in-demand jobs.
Considering that many of these high-demand positions do not require a 4-year collegiate degree, TechHire certainly focuses much funding on training. Specifically, TechHire will fund projects that empower individuals to cultivate the skills they need through both traditional and non-traditional settings.
Be it in-brick courses at a University or College, high-quality online courses, or even “coding bootcamps” – initiatives that seek to rapidly train workers in a matter of months, rather than years, are likely to be viewed favorably.
Target populations for projects are expected to include those low-skill individuals who most often face barriers to training and employment in IT and related fields. This includes individuals with child care responsibilities, persons with disabilities, disconnected youths, and limited English proficient workers.
To empower these individuals with the job skills they will need, TechHire will focus on funding projects that involve multi-sector collaborations.
TechHire will likely be interested in partnerships between employers, workforce boards, training institutions, non-profit organizations, and/or cities and states across the country.
Further, the Department of Labor has already provided us with a hint of what a successful partnership will look like. The qualities of successful partnerships include: Using data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring programs; expanding models for training that rapidly prepare participants for hire in a matter of months; and active local leadership wherein partnerships are fostered and local tech community gatherings are hosted to engage employers and training providers and to bring visibility to current efforts.
So, as fall arrives the weather has grown colder and the leaves have started to change their colors, but what about TechHire?
Well, we’re still waiting, and that’s okay, there are a few actions you can take in the mean time:
Take advantage of this time to foster and strengthen your partnerships.
Clearly assess what the workforce development needs are within your community.
Brainstorm some solutions to common hiring and training issues.
Take a look at what the 21 communities who have already committed to taking action are doing as well (https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/technology/techhire).
Finally, and most importantly, keep checking www.grants.gov too see when this opportunity’s guidance is officially released!
TechHire has the potential to change who and how we hire for IT positions in the 21st century. And really, what’s more American than inclusion and innovation?