It’s Another Win for Rewiring the Labor Market!

If you can do the job, you should get the job.

That’s what President Obama said when he announced TechHire over a year ago with 21 communities and 300 employers. The TechHire mission has been responsible for propelling thousands of Americans toward their passion and the middle class. Americans like Shadae, who had worked as a customer service manager earning $30,000 a year, but always had a passion for tinkering with computers and couldn’t afford to go to college. The Ada Developers Academy, which is part of the TechHire community, helped Shadae develop her skills, land an internship, and receive tailored support to become a web developer earning double her previous salary. 

Since TechHire has launched, over 50 communities have been working diligently to bring thousands of more stories like this to life. There are over half a million unfilled jobs in information technology right now- that’s about 12% of the approximately 5 million job openings- making IT the largest occupational category for open jobs. Employers often hired based on an advanced degree, but many candidates who have the skills and motivation to perform these jobs do not have the academic pedigree to be considered; even though hundreds of thousands of these jobs require skills that can be learned not only in universities, but also in community colleges, industry certified training programs, “coding boot camps” or in high-quality online courses. This creates an opportunity gap between the employer and hopeful IT candidates like Shadae.

Launched in March 2015, TechHire’s goal is to bridge this gap. In a single year, TechHire has created partnerships with over a thousand employers to hire thousands of often overlooked Americans who have the skills and motivation, but lack the typical academic pedigree to work in the tech Industry. It’s been wildly successful and it’s just getting started.

And just this week, Vice President Biden and Department of Labor Secretary Perez announced 39 H1-B TechHire grants of $150 million to fund tech training in 25 states and help train tomorrow’s workforce, including $126 million to create pathways to careers for at-risk and out-of-school, out-of-work young Americans. Young Americans like Shadae, whose talent was overlooked because she lacked the college degree to be noticed.

With 39 partnerships that just received funding to help youth and underserved populations access training, we’re continuing to bridge the gap between employers and IT candidates, creating more inspiring stories like Shadae’s. 

The TechHire movement is continuing to rapidly expand. It’s even moving into rural communities where people can’t imagine that they’d be part of the tech industry. This week, the administration also launched the South Central Appalachian TechHire, where the Appalachian Regional Commission, University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and private sector employers collaborate to develop a world-class ecosystem of tech talent in the heart of Appalachia. South Central Appalachia TechHire will prepare and place over 50 individuals into tech jobs over the next year, and 400 by 2020. South central Appalachia joins communities like Hawaii, New York City, Austin, and Akron, bringing to life its own inspiring story of training unemployed workers to become part of the tech industry. Similar communities, such as the TechHire community in East Kentucky, trained unemployed former coal miners to write computer code and transitioned to full time coders.  In Minnesota, TechHire partners trained women and people of color to become software developers, computer programmers, quality assistant engineers, service desk analysists and user support specialists. TechHire Nebraska, helped nurture and create opportunities for people in rural Nebraska, who would not have considered going into the tech industry.

Again- TechHire is just getting started. The movement will continue to grow and expand; thousands more aspiring IT talents will be placed in rewarding jobs, and the opportunity gap between tech employers and talented motivated Americans will be closed. Congratulations to all the H1B Department of Labor grant recipients and new communities!

To learn more about the TechHire movement, visit  www.techhire.org. To join as a new community, visit join.techhire.org

Pitch Perfect: Tech and Inclusion

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, was on stage and in conversation with Wharton professor Adam Grant a few days ago. Grant asked Hoffman to demo a pitch to the audience. “We have a serious inclusion problem in the tech industry,” Hoffman began.

It’s true. There are over 600,000 open IT jobs that are taking over five weeks to fill . But only 9.2 percent  of entry level tech jobs are held by African Americans and Hispanics, despite the fact that both demographic groups are over-represented in the ranks of the unemployed. And, though there are ten-week boot camps that can give people the skills they need to get and do IT jobs, as Hoffman pointed out, they cost roughly $11,000, which “plays right into the inclusion issue.” And so Hoffman went on to lay out a vision for “a scholarship fund…focused at diversity and inclusion” that will “enable the pipeline to good jobs to scale.”

Unprompted (and unexpected from Hoffman's longtime ally in social innovation, our co-founder Byron Auguste), Reid pitched Opportunity@Work and TechHire:

Since our founding in 2015, Opportunity@Work has served as the central hub for the TechHire initiative, an effort currently led by 50 communities across the nation and their partners – including governors, mayors, employers, training institutions, local technology associations, and other civic organizations – to take action to create a stronger, more inclusive tech talent pipeline for real IT jobs in demand. TechHire represents the encapsulation of our overall mission: There are people who can do jobs that need to be filled if only they’re given the opportunity to learn the skills and to be hired. We’re focusing first on IT jobs because these roles, which are critical for employers in almost every industry and pay fifty percent above the median wage, account for roughly fifteen percent of open jobs—that can be filled if we focus on putting people’s potential and ability to do the job over their pedigree.

Our goal is to make high-quality accelerated IT training available to more low-income Americans, in particular African Americans, Hispanics, and women, all traditionally underrepresented in tech jobs that they can certainly do, if only they’re given the opportunity to learn.

The average bootcamp cost is around $11,000; its length, around 11 weeks. Opportunity@Work is covering the cost by assembling a team of partners to pioneer lending based on bootcamp quality, not individual credit scores, and leveraging grant funds and partner organizations to provide subsidies for childcare and housing for those who can’t up and leave their lives for over two months. Through TechHire, we’re partnering with leading bootcamps that are specifically targeting underrepresented minorities: including Sabio, Telegraph Academy, and ZipCode Wilmington, which has improved graduate’s annual earnings by 120%.

 Simply put: we’re making sure that IT jobs are accessible to the people who need them, while ensuring employers get the highly skilled workforce they need and that our locally economies count on to innovate and flourish in the digital age.

To catalyze and scale this movement, Opportunity@Work launched the platform TechHire.org and created a national learning network for all TechHire communities, their partners, and participating employers. Over 600 employers have signed on as employer partners—from CVS, Monsanto, and Accenture to Citizens Bank—and agree to hire (or offer paid apprenticeships with the intention to hire) people on the basis of knowledge, not whether or where they went to college. In Rhode Island alone, we’ve begun the process of placing 2,000 job seekers in IT jobs across industries in five years.

And we’re not stopping there: On the one-year anniversary of TechHire earlier this month, the White House, which launched the initiative, announced TechHire's expansion from 35 to 50 new cities, states, and rural communities—benefiting thousands more lives.

We have ourselves a movement. Or, to borrow Hoffman’s parlance: We have a serious inclusion solution for the tech industry.

To learn more about TechHire and get involved, please visit www.TechHire.org and www.opportunityatwork.org or follow us on social media: www.twitter.com/opptyatwork