A White House program to boost the technology workforce in select areas of the country has just doubled its efforts, lowering the next generation of coders' bar of entry to higher education.
While visiting SXSW, on the first anniversary of the TechHire program, President Barack Obama unveiled a more-than-doubling of the communities the program would support, from 21 to 50, with more than 600 employer partners.
TechHire helps communities fill the growing IT workforce employment gap by connecting prospective students with employers. Such centers of IT activity are being targeted in regions that don’t already have a booming IT workforce.
"Communities are recruiting, incubating, and expanding accelerated tech learning programs — such as coding bootcamps and innovative online training — which enable interested, [inexperienced] students to rapidly gain tech skills,” according to a post by the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary.
The result has been a boost in the number of so-called coding bootcamps — short-term education programs that orient students to the basics of computer programming before they embark on careers by studying at full-fledged higher education institutions. Such programs received some federal support last year when the Department of Education unveiled a pilot program that would allow some students to use federal financial aid.
One such school, Prime Digital Academy, a private school in Bloomington, Minn., gives its students an opportunity to conquer coding skills across 18 weeks of lessons. In its pilot year, Minneapolis’ TechHire initiatives placed 135 graduates in full-time jobs, with average starting salaries of $48,364.
The state’s TechHire initiatives are being supported by local higher education institutions, including Capella University, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and the Software Guild of Concordia University.
In Oakland, Calif., graduates of TechHire initiatives secured 86 paid internships and 326 full-time jobs, along with a $5 million commitment from Intel for the Oakland Unified School District to help support engineering and computer science programs in high schools with 2,400 or more students.
As part of Obama’s doubling of the TechHire program, he’s also calling on newly appointed Education Secretary John King to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Educational Act, which provides $1.3 billion annually to career and technical education programs.
The 15 new TechHire communities will be in: