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Obama to announce effort to boost high-tech training, hiring

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Barack Obama


President Barack Obama is focusing on high-tech jobs in his bid to make progress on stagnant wages in the United States.

Obama has obtained commitments from more than 300 employers as well as local governments in 20 regions of the country to train and hire high technology workers in an effort to drive up higher-income employment.

Under the programme, the Obama administration will provide $100 million in competitive grants to joint initiatives by employers, training institutions and local governments that target low-skilled workers who don't have easy access to training. The money comes from fees companies pay to the government to hire foreign workers under the H-1B visa programme.

Among the communities that have pledged to participate are New York City, Louisville, Kansas City, Detroit, Nashville and San Francisco.

People familiar with the programme inside and outside the White House said Obama is to announce the programme, called TechHire. The initiative is designed to prepare United States workers for a growing number of technology jobs. According to the White House, of the five million jobs available today, more than half a million of them are in fields such as software development, network administration and cybersecurity. Obama's attention to technology comes as the unemployment rate is dropping but wages remain flat.

According to the White House, the average salary for workers with high-tech skills is 50 per cent higher than the average private-sector American job.

The administration's plan is for universities and community colleges to provide training, but to also rely on high-tech educational academies, some of which have entered into arrangements with cities to train workers in a matter of months and then help place them in jobs.

The training academies undergo independent studies to confirm the rate of job placements.