President Obama's TechHire a Great Step to Close Skills Gap

March 13, 2015
Earlier this week, President Obama took a great step at helping to close the skills gap by launching the TechHire initiative. This effort builds on the work of the Administration to create pathways to the middle class through targeting incentive grants and other resources that align with areas of economic growth and opportunity. This latest initiative commits $100 million in grants to train low-skilled individuals and connect them to programs that support accelerated and work-based learning in partnership with employers.
TechHire is an excellent example of a program that positions employers as leaders in their community in co-designing programs that will result in real career opportunities and begin to close this skills gap.   
With more than 5 million jobs open today and a skills gap that continues to threaten the ability of companies to compete and grow in a global economy, aligning resources and training opportunities to in-demand sectors is an economic imperative. 
The technology sector in particular is a driving force in the U.S. economy, and many fields—including cybersecurity—continue to suffer from chronic worker shortages at a time when companies need skilled employees more than ever.  
Rather than standing up just another training program, the Administration has done a great job in this effort to support nontraditional program delivery with accelerated programs like “coding boot camps.” Efforts like these leverage technology and competency-based approaches to provide students with employable skills in months, not years. Working hand-in-hand with employers, these programs are anticipated to be tailor-made to meet the needs of employer recruiting and hiring practices.  
It’s these types of market-driven programs that will have real value for workers, business, and the economy. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) has made them a priority in our programmatic work. 
Last year, we launched the Talent Pipeline Management initiative, which calls for providers to develop accelerated and work-based education and training programs that meet the needs of employers as “end-customers” of their education and workforce partnerships. 
Additionally, USCCF launched its Youth Employment initiative last month as another employer-centric program to close the skills gap. This effort is a call to action for developing work experiences at scale that better connect students and disconnected youth with opportunities to explore their career interests, all while adding real and meaningful value to the business community looking to onboard new talent.  
TechHire is a welcome step forward and we look forward to learning how it helps America’s business community build the workforce it needs to succeed.
Jason A. Tyszko is Senior Director of Policy and Programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Center for Education and Workforce.