Digital Communities

Obama's TechHire Initiative Expands to 15 New Jurisdictions

The president's initiative to put America on the technology-training fast track gained new partnerships at the city and state levels.

by / March 10, 2016

Federal CTO Megan Smith speaks to a packed house at City Garage in Baltimore, Md., which was officially launched as a TechHire city.Twitter/@andrewcoy

TechHire, the Obama administration’s push to open more tech jobs to middle- and lower-class Americans, is expanding. The initiative, which launched in 21 communities one year ago through a $100 million initiative, expanded on March 9 to include 15 new communities.

The program aims to reduce unemployment and mobilize a broader-based technology workforce by connecting regional partners across government, businesses and nonprofits.

The new TechHire communities are:

  1. The state of Hawaii
  2. The commonwealth of Virginia
  3. Atlanta, Ga.
  4. Austin, Texas
  5. Burlington, Vt.
  6. Flint, Mich.
  7. Indianapolis, Ind.
  8. Jackson, Miss.
  9. Jackson, Tenn.
  10. Miami
  11. Milwaukee, Wis.
  12. Raleigh, N.C.
  13. Riverside, Calif.
  14. Seattle
  15. Tallahassee, Fla.

Participation in TechHire includes three main activities for a city or state. Participants are to pursue lines of non-traditional hiring to fill jobs in the areas of highest demand, incubate training programs that reduce the path to employment from a timeline of years to months, and lean on community-based programs that can vouch for the skills and credibility of job candidates who don’t possess traditional skills and education backgrounds.

In Seattle, where 3,200 technology and engineering jobs were opened in the last 30 days, demand for talent is booming. The city’s goal is to use TechHire to place 2,000 people in tech jobs by 2020.

“We will leverage this program and the White House’s support to launch new local initiatives, extend the impact of our Summer Youth Employment Program, and accelerate the incredible work of community partners,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement.

Miami’s plan is to place 2,500 candidates into tech jobs by 2020.

“We see it as an opportunity to bring together partners and provide tools,” Jacob Leibenluft, deputy director of the National Economic Council, told the Miami Herald. “Part of the goal of this program is that communities learn from each other. As the network grows, we will see returns to scale.”

Milwaukee, which branded its TechHire effort as Employ Milwaukee, seeks to place 150 candidates by next year, and 600 candidates by 2020.

The White House reported that the U.S. has more open jobs today – 5 million – than any point since 2011. Quickly training Americans using new methods to fill those positions is the crux of the TechHire initiative.

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.