WASHINGTON, DC (March 9, 2016) — Today, the White House marked the one year anniversary of TechHire with an announcement that 15 new communities are joining the initiative. Last March, President Obama kicked off TechHire with 21 cities, states, and rural areas nationwide committing to address the current over 500,000* open information technology (IT) jobs in the United States. Already, over 600 employers-from HealthPartners, Monsanto, CVS Health, JP Morgan Chase, Anheuser-Busch, to FedEx-have signed on to the TechHire initiative with the goal of hiring (or offering paid apprenticeships with the intention to hire) people on the basis of knowledge, not whether or where they went to college. The announcement today brings the total number to 50 communities– and their governors, mayors, employers, training institutions, technology associations, and other civic organizations – that have signed on to take action to create a better marketplace for skilled individuals to be placed into IT jobs.
Opportunity@Work, launched in March 2015 and based at New America, made a commitment to support the TechHire initiative and to facilitate the successful implementation and growth of the project. Opportunity@Work is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to secure a future of robust opportunity in which all Americans can learn, pursue and realize their potential contribution. Opportunity@Work has a vision for a labor market where those who have the potential to perform a job successfully have the opportunity to obtain that job.
In the past year, Opportunity@Work has created a national learning network for all TechHire communities, their partners, and participating employers and hosted 19 bi-monthly webinars on which TechHire communities share best practices and common challenges. The team also launched the site TechHire.org, a resource for current and prospective TechHire partners including civic, private sector, and not-for profit institutions.
Byron Auguste, Managing Director and Co-founder explained, “TechHire is emerging as a superior network to connect employers with IT hiring needs to individuals who possess the skills and motivation to be successful employees, but whose non-traditional pathways to acquiring those skills too often render them “invisible” to traditional recruiting processes.”
In order to scale up support for TechHire communities and employers, today Opportunity@Work is releasing version 2.0 of TechHire.org with new functionality and for the first time, pages for each of the 50 communities. This online platform enables TechHire communities to share key information on their activities with their own stakeholders and makes visible the progress and collaborative work underway in each TechHire community. It will connect employers with quality candidates to fill their IT jobs through TechHire, shares data on open IT positions, and provides an opportunity to share progress and exchange best practices. To increase equity and access, Opportunity@Work also plans to launch a pay-it-forward financing program to enable low-income Americans to access high-quality accelerated IT training to get into well-paying technology jobs.
In addition to celebrating TechHire’s first anniversary, Opportunity@Work is pleased to announce that it has hired Tess Posner as its first Director of TechHire. She joins Opportunity@Work’s growing team that has been working closely with employers, training providers and community partners to support and grow TechHire’s impact nationwide. Ms. Posner most recently served as the Managing Director of the Samaschool in San Francisco. Samaschool was named one of the 13 most innovative schools in the world by Business Insider and recognized in TechCrunch, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Wired and Fast Company.
“TechHire represents an exciting opportunity to develop long-term shifts in the American labor market; allowing even more Americans to realize the dream of better paying jobs to help their families and communities prosper,” said Tess Posner. “Opportunity@Work is developing a great foundation for this initiative to achieve success.”
In her role as the Managing Director of Samaschool, Tess equipped low-income people to find work in the digital economy. Samaschool’s job training boot camps provided trainees with in-demand skills, resources and the support they needed to be successful in digital work and their careers. She grew the program from a pilot in San Francisco in 2013 to international adoption, now with eleven diverse locations from New York City to rural Arkansas to East Africa. In 2015, Tess oversaw Samaschool’s development and launch of an online training platform, now serving students in 70 countries.
According to Monique Morrow, CTO of New Frontiers of Development and Engineering at Cisco, “Tess Posner’s transition from Samaschool Managing Director to TechHire is natural. Her impact at Samaschool has simply been phenomenal, expanding beyond the USA to include Kenya and on-line opportunities.”
Samaschool’s approach to giving low-income populations 21st century skills to tap into the digital economy led it to be named one of the “13 most innovative schools in the world” by Business Insider, featured in TechCrunch, Fast Company and receive funding from organizations such as the Tipping Point Community, JPMorgan Chase, the California Endowment and the Robin Hood Foundation.
According to Opportunity@Work Co-Founder Karan Chopra, “Tess has spent her career working to increase equity and promote equal opportunity in the economy. Her passion for ensuring that all people have the chance to reach their full potential combined with her demonstrated success working at the intersection of education, workforce and employer hiring make her the ideal person to drive our work on TechHire. I am thrilled that Tess has joined our team.”
*Source: Burning Glass Technologies
Opportunity@Work’s goal is to empower 1 million more Americans to work and earn to their full potential over the next 10 years. Opportunity@Work is focusing first on IT jobs because these roles, which are critical for employers in almost every industry and pay fifty percent above the median wage, account for roughly fifteen percent of open jobs in the United States. These open IT jobs can be filled by fostering an ecosystem where job seekers can demonstrate their abilities, where training providers are focused on skills employers need, and where employers hire based on ability, not pedigree.
TechHire is a place-based effort led by communities and their partners – including governors, mayors, employers, training institutions, local technology associations, and other civic organizations – to take action to create a better marketplace for IT jobs. The 50 communities including cities, states, and rural areas have announced plans to create the pathways for recruiting and placing applicants based on their skills and to increase access to fast track tech training opportunities, based on market-wide hiring needs. The long-term objective of TechHire is to create the labor market conditions nationally that enable employers to “hire when ready” and job seekers to be aware of, prepare for, and connect with IT jobs and careers. By creating compelling proof points in communities throughout the country; uncovering common challenges; developing scalable solutions; and bringing to bear national and regional partnerships and resources, TechHire, with support from Opportunity@Work, will serve as a catalyst to transforming the broader labor market.
Tari Linda Lau