Austin jumps into national tech training, hiring program

Posted March 9th, 2016

Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Wednesday said the city is joining a White House initiative designed to work with Google and other top companies to fill technology jobs in cities – like Austin – that have been hubs of innovation but have struggled to find enough skilled workers.

At a noon news conference at City Hall, Adler echoed President Barack Obama’s sentiment about the need to fill high-paying technology jobs through his program TechHire, which launched last year. 

Adler said leading technology companies are desperate to find thousands of skilled workers for jobs in Austin. 

“We have lots of people who need good jobs,” he said, but many of them lack a high-tech education. 

Stephen SpillmanAustin Mayor Steve Adler speaks during the State of the City Address on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016.

TechHire represents a bridge to connect technology companies, schools and people in need of training, the mayor said. 

In Austin, Microsoft, Google Fiber, Google, IBM and other companies will work with city officials to provide chances for up to 220 graduates from accelerated training programs. Veterans and low-income students enrolled at Austin Community College, Texas State University and Zenith Education Group soon will be able to interview for paid internships, the White House said. 

Obama told city-level leaders last year that unfilled tech jobs equate to missed opportunities for low-wage workers who could have been in training for higher paying careers. 

Now, one year after TechHire launched, the White House announced that the program has met president’s goal to double the number of TechHire communities with more than 40, and there are now 600 employers in the program. 

Austin joins other places in the program including: Atlanta, Burlington, Vermont., Riverside, Calif., Flint, Mich., the state of Hawaii, Indianapolis, Jackson, Miss., Milwaukee, Raleigh, N.C., Jackson, Tenn., Seattle, Tallahassee, Fla., the Commonwealth of Virginia and Miami. 

The program is described by the White House a “multi-sector initiative” that trains Americans at universities and community colleges and utilizes “nontraditional approaches,” such as coding boot camps and online courses, to quickly train new technology workers. 

The announcement comes ahead of Obama’s planned visit to South by Southwest Interactive on Friday. 

Drew Scheberle, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce executive vice president for education, said the initiative should help put some of the 32,000 unemployed people in Central Texas into the high tech workforce. 

“This will help train people in high-demand fields,” he said. “This is going to help training into a new career through a public-private partnership.”

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