Preparing tomorrow’s IT workers

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A look at how community colleges are taking part in the White House’s TechHire initiative and training students for jobs in the tech industry. 

There are more than half a million unfilled jobs in information technology across all sectors of the economy. In March 2015, President Obama announced the TechHire initiative to expand local tech sectors by building tech talent pipelines in communities across the country. This past June, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded 39 grants totaling $150 million to partnerships that target, train, and support young people and disadvantaged groups with barriers to employment.

A number of community colleges received grant funding, and the key to success will be in the partnerships formed with businesses for both training for the tech industry and connecting participants with employment opportunities.

Implementing an apprenticeship model is the focus of Washington’s Seattle Central College and partners that include LaunchCode Foundation, EnergySavvy, Unloop, Floodgate, Ada Developer Academy. They received a $3.8 million grant for TechHire Seattle-King County. Students will be connected with paid apprenticeships that could result in full-time employment in jobs such as database administration and development, network design, programming and web design.

Rather than start from the ground-up, TechHire Seattle-King County is using a model that’s proven successful in other markets. Launchcode has launched and grown this model in four U.S. cities. Placement rates are around 90 percent, and salaries have more than doubled for participants.

Midlands Technical College (MTC) in South Carolina will offer scholarships to 400 people to participate in accelerated learning boot camps that will train students for networking and programming occupations in six to eight weeks. Midlands TechHire also will provide exam preparation for certifications and classes and workshops in soft skills and job readiness.

For MTC, which received a $4 million grant, this is not just about training people for employment, but also about attracting businesses to the region.

“A pipeline of local IT talent is a big factor in a company’s decision to consider the Midlands as a place to do business,” MTC President Ronald Rhames said in a press release. “Hundreds of new, technically trained employees will help bring new jobs to our community and assist existing companies expand their IT areas.”

BridgeValley Community and Technical College will use its $4 million grant to work on transforming a once coal-dependent regional economy in southern West Virginia into a technology-based one. Young adults from 10 counties will get training and participate in paid internships. They’ll earn credentials related to IT and advanced manufacturing. To ensure the program’s success, the college will facilitate relationships among local training providers, workforce organizations and employers.

A full list of grant recipients, and the information about the projects they are working on, can be found here.

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A Midlands Technical College student trains in the Corporate and Continuing Education server administrator program. Photo credit: Midlands Technical College. 

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.