Minneapolis Among First of 20 Regions to Participate in President’s ‘TechHire’ Initiative
March 9, 2015 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Mayor Betsy Hodges will today join President Obama as he announces a new initiative called TechHire, focused on training and connecting Americans with the more than half a million tech jobs currently available. Minneapolis is among the first of 20 regions that will be participating in this new initiative, creating public-private partnerships to prepare workers for a growing number of technology jobs.
The President will speak about this new White House initiative at the National League of Cities’ Congressional City Conference in Washington D.C. Monday morning; he will be joined by Mayor Hodges and other leaders who are answering the President’s call to participate.
“As technology changes the way we interact as individuals, it is also shaping our work environment and shifting the nature of skills needed to fill today’s jobs,” said Mayor Hodges. “While Minneapolis does enjoy great economic momentum with just a 3 percent unemployment rate, we know that not all share in that momentum. There are wide disparities in unemployment between white people and people of color, and there are many unemployed and underemployed people eager to get a job or get a better paying job. The TechHire initiative is a way to close the existing gaps and provide opportunities for everyone to participate.”
TechHire is focused on empowering Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well paying job often in just a few months. Many of these programs do not require a four-year degree. 
In response to the rapid growth in tech jobs, the Minneapolis region has developed three high-quality accelerated training programs – two of them new for our region – to partner with TechHire to launch Minnesota residents from non-traditional backgrounds into the growing IT industry. As part of the TechHire initiative, these educational innovators – Prime Digital Academy, IT-Ready, and Concordia University – will expand their programs to train a combined 300 individuals this year for entry-level software positions. This will be made possible by commitments from over sixty employers and apprenticeship partners representing thousands of software development, networking, and technical support jobs throughout the metro.
“I am proud to be partnering with the White House, these local programs, and local businesses as we bring workers without traditional IT backgrounds into the industry for entry-level work in software engineering and support. A primary objective of this effort is to diversify the pool of candidates to fill available tech jobs by training more women and underrepresented groups. Our partnerships will continue to increase accessibility of the programs by making funding available for qualified students who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend,” continued Mayor Hodges.
According to the Minnesota High Tech Association, the latest research from TechAmerica shows Minnesota is home to more than 120,000 tech workers with a total payroll of nearly $10 billion. These jobs are well compensated at an average wage of $79,200 – 74% more than the state’s average private-sector wage. Within the next decade, Minnesota is forecasted to host nearly 200,000 technology jobs, not including those in the health-care sector.
About TechHire:
America today has about 5 million open jobs, more than at any point since 2001. Over half a million of those job openings are in fields like software development, network administration, and cybersecurity, many of which did not even exist just a decade ago. Helping more Americans train and connect to these jobs is a key element of the President’s middle-class economics agenda. 
As part of that agenda, TechHire is a bold public-private initiative to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job often in just a few months. Many of these programs do not require a four-year degree. 
To kick off TechHire, 20 regions with open technology jobs, and more than 300 employers, are announcing plans to work together to create more tech training opportunities. The President is challenging more to follow in their lead.
About Minneapolis’ training program partners: 
Prime Digital Academy, created by the leading interactive production shop and employer The Nerdery, is an eighteen-week accelerated learning program that teaches foundational software engineering skills. The program, which kicked off in December 2014, is supplemented by an apprenticeship network with dozens of companies committed to providing on-the-job learning through a paid apprenticeship at some of the area’s best workplaces. Prime helps students to understand holistically the job of a software engineer including how to collaborate with project managers, designers, quality assurance, and especially clients and stakeholders. One of Prime’s objectives is to improve the diversity of the technology industry by training underrepresented groups to become software engineers. Prime is partnering with the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota High Tech Association to increase the accessibility of the program by making funding available for qualifying students who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend. This partnership is part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s effort to foster accelerated-learning models in communities across the United States.
Concordia University Bootcamp launched in 2014 to train students in software development. This bootcamp was the first IT coding bootcamp in the country offered by an accredited university that carries college credit. Concordia is partnering with The Learning House, a Kentucky-based educational services company, to create the Bootcamp. Students attend class all day, every day for twelve weeks to prepare for positions as junior developers in local businesses. The goal of the program is to place graduates in full-time positions within ninety days of graduation. The majority of the initial classes are college graduates who are re-training for improved employment and about half are female. The curriculum is modeled after a successful coding bootcamp in Akron, Ohio called the Software Craftsmanship Guild, which has a 90+% placement rate with an average salary of $52,000. To facilitate accessibility, students will be eligible for Title IV financial aid, which is based on need.
IT-Ready, a program of the Creating IT Futures Foundation, operating in Minneapolis since 2012, is the Foundation’s central effort to move unemployed or underemployed individuals with little to no IT experience into lasting careers in the IT industry. IT-Ready provides an eight-week, classroom-based training for a cohort of up to twenty-five students to develop both their technical and soft skills necessary to thrive in IT occupations. Graduates must pass the CompTIA A+ certification exam, a benchmark used by employers to gauge basic tech support skills. Since the start of IT-Ready in Minneapolis in mid-2012, more than 120 students have entered the program, with a 95% graduation rate, 92% certifying in CompTIA A+, and 80% being placed into IT occupations. Wages of students were typically below $14 an hour before entering the program; starting wages after a six-month apprenticeship are typically over $15 an hour, with many graduates moving into salaried positions at more than $50,000 annually after less than two years of work. In the case of IT-Ready, 95% of apprentices are hired as permanent employees either during the course of the six-month apprenticeship or at the end of the term.


Published Mar 9, 2015



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