Obama Launches New TechHire Initiative


President Barack Obama arrived at Berry Airfield on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 to speak on immigration. (Greg French/MTSU Sidelines)

President Obama will announce a new campaign to work with communities including Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis in an effort to secure more Americans with well-paying technology jobs later this morning.

The president will unveil his administration’s “TechHire” initiative in his speech to the National League of Cities, according to a White House press release.

Obama and his administration are focused on “promoting middle class economics to ensure that all Americans can contribute to and benefit from our American resurgence.” According to the Associated Press, Obama is targeting stagnant wages in an otherwise improving economy, and is calling on employers, educational institutions and local governments to increase training and hiring of high-technology workers in an effort to bolster higher-income employment.

According to the release, the President has currently obtained commitments from more than 300 employers as well as local governments in 21 regions of the country to train and hire low-skilled workers and make them proficient for jobs in software development, network administration and cybersecurity.

Under the program, the Obama administration will provide $100 million in competitive grants to joint initiatives by employers, training institutions and local governments that target workers who don’t have easy access to training. The money comes from fees companies pay to the government to hire foreign workers under the H-1B visa program, according to the Associated Press.

“Too many Americans think these jobs are out of their reach, that these jobs are only in places like Silicon Valley or that they all require an advance degree in computer science. That’s just not the case,” said Jeff Zients, director of the White House National Economic Council.

According to the Associated Press, the administration’s plan is for universities and community colleges to provide training, but to also rely on high-tech educational academies, some of which now have arrangements with cities to train workers in a matter of months and then help place them in jobs.

The training academies undergo independent studies to confirm the rate of job placements.

“The new training models have really been open to publishing their results … how many people are getting hired from these training programs,” said Megan Smith, the chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The unemployment rate in February dropped to 5.5 percent but average hourly earnings rose just 3 cents to $24.78 from January. Raising wages has become one of the biggest challenges of the current economic recovery.

“The world’s technology needs are just moving a lot faster than traditional education solutions. That’s the fundamental problem here,” said Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer, whose city has pledged to expand an existing program with high tech. “So that’s why these non-conventional methods are needed right now.”

Follow Meagan White on Twitter at @meaganwhite328

For more updates on the TechHire initiative, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_News

To contact news editor Max Smith, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com 

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