Young people benefiting from the TechHire initiativeLast month, at the National League of Cities, President Obama announced TechHire, a new public private partnership focused on building meaningful pathways to employment in information technology (IT).

The announcement is right on time. As America continues to add jobs at an unprecedented rate, we see jobs in IT fields like software development, network administration and cybersecurity, remaining vacant because employers are having difficulty identifying candidates with the appropriate skills to fill them. TechHire brings together employers, educators, job seekers and other relevant stakeholders, in more than 21 communities, to incent innovative regional approaches to training and hiring to create a qualified candidate pool to fill these positions.

SkillSmart applauds the President and the Administration for all of the incredible groundwork necessary to launch an ambitious program like TechHire. We are advocates for similar regional approaches to rapid skills development and have previously recognized the lack of such coordination in communities, as we’ve recently identified in Montgomery County as it plans for its economic future.

Of course, with any announcement like this, the real question is, “What comes next?” Will this spark new activity or be more of the status quo masked by a new name?

We think there are three main reasons to be optimistic. First, all relevant stakeholders are at the table. The TechHire initiative promotes important coordination between employers, trainers and community based-organizations. Second, the regional approach allows for local, cultural differences that can be lost and/or fatal in a blanket national program. This program will provide lift to programs currently underway including their regional particulars. Lastly, the Administration recognizes that many of these jobs may not require four-year degrees. Encouraging the development of rapid on ramps to employment is critical and may spark necessary competition amongst education providers to ensure cost-effective delivery of the skills employers need.

SkillSmart intends to be an active participant in shaping the outcome of TechHire by ensuring the cost-effective delivery of in-demand skills and helping empower Americans with pathways to IT jobs. Join us!