Obama sets plan to train workers for unfilled IT jobs

President Barack Obama this week unveiled a new program designed to train workers for an estimated half million unfilled information technology jobs.

The initiative, called TechHire, was announced Monday at a meeting of the National League of Cities in Washington. While it does not involve large expenditures of taxpayer money or involvement of the federal government, it will encourage cities to create their own training programs, the Washington Post reported.

The announcement follows improving employment reports showing a sustained pace of hiring, although with flat wages. By working with cities such as Rochester, New York; St. Louis; Nashville, Tennessee and Philadelphia, it does not require action from a gridlocked Congress, according to the Post.

Addressing the local officials in the audience, the president said: "Ultimately, success is going to rest on folks like you—on mayors, council members, local leaders—because you've got the power to bring your communities together and seize this incredible economic development opportunity that could change the way we think about training and hiring the workers of tomorrow. And the good news is these workers may emerge from the unlikeliest places."

TechHire involves connecting companies and districts to work together to connect skilled workers to jobs, reported Engadget. The companies will launch "fast track" programs to help provide on-the-job training. A new federal fund of $100 million will bankroll new training opportunities for low-skilled workers, as well as those with child care responsibilities, non-English speakers and the disabled.

The plan also seeks to get private companies to run "coding bootcamps" for women, veterans and minorities instead of requiring a four-year degree, Engadget said. The program has been tested in Louisville, Kentucky; New York City and Delaware.

"Helping more Americans train and connect to these jobs is a key element of the president's middle-class economics agenda," according to a White House statement.

In other IT job news, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is investing in creating a more diverse workforce for tech companies, Fortune reported. In an interview, Denise Young-Smith, Apple's VP of worldwide human resources, said the company is committing more than $50 million to diversity efforts. It had previously been reported by the Wall Street Journal that Apple's workforce is 30 percent female and 70 percent male. Fifty-five percent of its U.S. employees are white, 15 percent are Asian, 11 percent are Hispanic and 7 percent are black.

The $50 million will go to organizations that work to get more women, minorities and veterans into the tech workforce. "We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple," Young Smith told Fortune. "There is tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can't innovate without being diverse and inclusive."

For more:
- See this Washington Post article
- See this Engadget article
- See this White House fact sheet
- See this Fortune article
- See this Wall Street Journal article

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