Monday morning Mayor A. C. Wharton took to social media with the message, "I am in Washington today with President Obama who will be announcing the TechHire initiative
which is a multi-sector project that will recruit and rapidly train citizens for existing, well-paying technology jobs. I am proud that Memphis is one of over 20 communities involved with this effort. Looking forward to the discussion at the White House following this morning's announcement."
Social media has become ubiquitous, and this ubiquity comes with an increased need for skilled employees to develop the information technology (IT) platforms behind it, so it was a fitting way to announce the TechHire initiative, which is designed to help communities connect employees and employers.
Memphis is stepping up for the program, as are Nashville and Chattanooga. The TechHire initiative
will aid Memphis businesses–including Unistar-Sparco, Tate Systems and MLGW–by partnering locally with the Workforce Investment Network and Ethos Project to train and place students with IT Support, Software Developer, and IT Security Support certifications. National partners are varied and include Cisco, Microsoft and LinkedIn. The City of Memphis will also market this effort to inform women, veterans, low-income citizens, and young adults of the program.
"The perennial question for the average elementary student is what do you want to be or do when you grow up," said Mayor Wharton. Many of the tech fields that are currently in high demand did not exist when many who wish to be in the workforce were being educated, which underscores the need for TechHire.
The initiative will prepare workers for the increasing number of new IT jobs. According to the White House, of the five million jobs available today, more than half a million of them are in IT fields, such as software development, network administration and cybersecurity. Employers have an urgent need for these skills, and programs like “coding bootcamps,” and high-quality online courses do not require the commitment of a four-year degree, only a few months. Once trained, the average salary in a job that requires IT skills – no matter the industry (manufacturing, advertising, retail, banking, etc.) – is 50 percent higher than the average private-sector American job.
The Mayor wrapped up by saying he was, “grateful to our local private sector partners for linking up with us on this one. It demonstrates they share the commitment of those partners in the public sector.”
Funding for the program will come from fees paid to the government by companies hiring foreign workers under the H-1B visa program. Funds will be distributed though $100 million in competitive grants to joint initiatives by employers, training institutions and local governments.