What Does the TechHire Grant Competition Mean for the Economy?
A team consisting of top US government officials has announced plans to broaden the President’s TechHire initiative, that is aimed at affording young Americans the opportunity to train and get employed into well-paying tech jobs. The initiative was unveiled by the Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, White House Cabinet Secretary, Broderick Johnson and the US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. The event took place on November 17, 2015 in Baltimore, MD. The choice of Baltimore this time around was crucial, because the city’s economy has been underrepresented in the tech sector for many years.
The TechHire initiative will ensure all Americans, specifically the youth and young adults between the age of 17 and 29; people with disability and criminal records and people with limited English proficiency get access to funding. Besides Baltimore, the program is also underway in other communities across the US, including; Nashville, Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, Detroit, Portland, Philadelphia and Albuquerque among others. The drive to push for this program is driven by the administration’s passion to promote middle class economics in order to ensure all segments of the American population benefit from the ongoing economic resurgence.
Promising employment outlook
Recent economic statistics indicates that in the last 68 months, businesses in the private sector have added 13.5 million jobs, to create the longest jobs streak on record. This growth has created numerous opportunities for tech talents, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find. The US labor statistics indicate that there are currently about 5.5 million open job opportunities in the US. Out of this number, half a million jobs are in the IT sector, in areas such as cyber-security, software development and network administration. In the same breadth, the average salary of jobs that require IT skills is now 50% higher compared to the average private sector job in the country.
The potential of the tech program
There are over 6 million Americans age between 16 and 24, who are out of school. This sober reminder indicates the existence of a huge untapped market that is ready to be co-opted in the IT sector. President Barrack Obama launched the bold TechHire initiative in March 2015, with the aim of reaching more than 40 communities before the end of the year. Since the initial launch, the program has already brought together 35 cities, states and rural communities and more than 500 partnering employers. The employers are keen to fast track training opportunities and perform staff recruitment based on the candidate’s actual skills.
The $100 million TechHire Grant competition
The Department of Labor (DOL) has already begun releasing the application forms for the $100 million TechHire Grant Competition grant. Under this award, a sum of $100 million or more in H-1B funds will be released along with about $50 million to support young Americans in the 17-to-29 age bracket, who have difficulty finding training and employment opportunities. The proposed partnership will help young people train and get well-paying jobs in various fields including advanced manufacturing, IT and healthcare sectors after only a few months.
The grant will be awarded to about 30 to 40 grantees; in a program that will see labor organizations, employers, community colleges, other training stakeholders, faith based organizations and state and local government join hands. The organizations that qualify are those that are well-positioned to:
– Expand access to accelerated learning options
– Provide specialized training strategies
– Use data and innovative hiring practices to open non-traditional training opportunities
– Link people to jobs that have hiring on-ramp programs
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The $20 million Training to Work Grant competition
The $20 million Training to Work Grant Competition is mainly targeted at rehabilitating and reintegrating formerly incarcerated persons. In mid-November, the administration announced it was launching the fourth round of DOL’s Training to Work grant competition. The award includes about 14 grants, which are all designated to help fast track the path to accessing tech sector jobs and other high growth jobs for individuals aged 18 and older, who have left the correctional facilities.
This initiative also aims to offer a well-coordinated set of customized services, including mentoring, case management, job placement training, education and post-employment services. The targeted areas will be the Promise Zones or areas with high levels of crime and poverty as defined by the initiators of the program.
The primary objective of the TechHire initiative is to use the tech sector and other high value occupations as a spring board to bring the long forgotten segment of the population into the economic fold. Since its initial announcement early this year, the TechHire initiative has already attracted various communities across the country. The partnering employers have agreed to create new training opportunities and apply new recruitment and hiring strategies based on the candidate’s skills.
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