President Obama is fiercely fighting for American employment, specifically in IT jobs. “It turns out it doesn’t matter where you learned code, it just matters how good you are at writing code,” he stated at the National League of Cities conference. “If you can do the job, you should get the job.”
There are over 50,000 open positions in the tech field, noted Jacob Leibenluft, deputy director of the White House’s National Economic Council, citing the Labor Department statistics. The Obama administration is addressing this issue by expanding the “TechHire” initiative to 15 new communities, as Obama announced Wednesday, March 9th, 2016.
The initiative now has memberships from 50 communities, including Seattle, Atlanta, and Miami.
“Too many Americans think these jobs are out of their reach, that they’re only in Silicon Valley or require advanced degrees, but that’s just not true,” Leibenluft said. “We’re not going to stop at 50 communities. We’re going to continue to work with state and local leaders who share our goal of creating new opportunities that benefit workers, employers and communities.”
“TechHire” has no federal money attached to it, but the White House has put their weight behind the initiative, and that’s enough. “There is something very useful and powerful about the White House rolling out a particular program,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said. “It’s an organizing principle for those of us on the ground, it also gives some credibility to our efforts, especially when we go out to employers. And the fact that there’s now a nationwide network doing this means there’s lessons learned that we can share with each other and share with employers that will make us that much more effective as we do this work.” Since teaming up with the administration six months ago, she noted that she’s been able to bring aboard 35 private sector partners that have committed to hiring workers of all backgrounds for tech positions.
To expand efforts in hiring, tech companies are encouraged to look beyond the typical hiring methods. To accompany the “TechHire” initiative, the Obama administration unveiled two other programs: “Optional Practical Training” to encourage international STEM students, and “Career and Technical Education Makeover Challenge,” a tech contest for high school students.
Although the tech industry is already well-known for hiring outside of traditional avenues, these invigorated programs are helping to legitimize these paths and bring back vigor to the workforce.