Obama ‘Beefs Up’ TechHire Initiative to Put More Americans in Tech Jobs

TechHire, Obama's strategy for making more Americans skilled for technology jobs, has been expanded and extended to more communities

BE_President Obama

On Wednesday, the White House announced expansions to President Obama’s TechHire initiative, an effort to train and place Americans, including those in underserved or at-risk demographics, into the half-a-million, well-paying tech positions that employers across the nation are desperate to fill.

[Related: Black Unemployment Rate Nearly Cut in Half Under Obama Administration]

Details of the bolstered plan include:

– Expanding TechHire to 50 communities: When TechHire launched last year, the initial plan trained people in high-tech skills in 21 communities across the United States. Today, the program will expand to 50 communities with 200 employers involved in the effort.

– Extending on-the-job training for international STEM graduates of U.S. universities: To strengthen educational experiences of international students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  will expand and extend the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for STEM graduates, and require stronger ties between STEM OPT students and universities after graduation to enhance the students’ educational experience.

– Department of Education launching the Career Technical Education (CTE) Makeover Challenge: As part of the President’s National Makers Initiative to give more people access to new technologies to design and build just about anything, the DOE is launching the CTE challenge to encourage the creation of more maker spaces in American high schools. The White House is also announcing the dates for the 2016 National Week of Making as June 17 – 23.

– Acting Secretary of Education John King will call on Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Act: The reauthorization of this act will incentivize high-quality programs, encourage innovation, and align CTE programs with postsecondary and career opportunities. This legislation also provides middle schools, high schools, and higher education institutions more than $1.1 billion per year to support career and technical education (CTE).

In November of last year, President Obama kicked off the TechHire initiative in Baltimore. With the program, businesses and organizations in Baltimore and other participating cities are able to apply for $100 million in Department of Labor grants dedicated to tech training. $50 million of that grant money goes specifically to support training and job placement for those ages 17-29. Other targeted groups for the grant money include individuals with disabilities, those with limited English-speaking skills, and those with criminal records.

The TechHire program also includes training in web development, cyber security, digital advertising, and more for Baltimore citizens.

The additional cities to which TechHire has been expanded are: Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Burlington, Vermont; Flint, Michigan; the state of Hawaii; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Jackson, Tennessee; Miami, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Raleigh, North Carolina; Riverside, California; Seattle Washington; Tallahassee, Florida; and the Commonwealth of Virginia.