Obama’s TechHire Initiative Is a Huge Leap Forward for Education

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This week, the Obama administration announced the TechHire Initiative, which will create pathways to well-paying technology jobs through $100 million in grants and other educational programs. This is extremely exciting for Americans who want the technical skills necessary to excel in today’s job market.

The truth is, traditional education has been woefully out of touch with students’ needs for quite some time. Many university graduates feel completely unprepared for actual work – even those who’ve gone through computer science or other technical programs. In these cases, both employees and employers suffer when new workers spend the first months of a job simply learning how to contribute to a company and make an impact.

This needs to change, and fast.

At Galvanize, we’ve made great progress bridging the gap between industry and education, and I’m thrilled to see that our government has recognized that technical programs are the key to getting americans on the path to well-paying, fulfilling work. With this week’s news, the Obama administration has committed to increased pathways for students, standardized models for job training, and a focus on working with forward-leaning communities. I believe this initiative will make a huge impact on the future of education. Here’s how:

More On-ramps and Support

Right now, our educational institutions aren’t well-equipped to train the unemployed, underemployed, or unhappily employed. Especially if those people need to commit to 4 years of education simply for a chance at their desired career.

Everyone should have access to the wealth and promise of a job in the tech industry – especially underrepresented or disadvantaged groups. As part of the TechHire initiative, the White House is launching a $100 million H-1B grant competition to train the next generation of workers. And I’m happy to see that Obama has encouraged bootcamps to provide free or discounted training to underrepresented groups.

At Galvanize, we’ve already seen the impact of providing life-changing opportunities through scholarships and other initiatives. We all need to work together to provide better job training and more access If we want to fix our tech’s lopsided demographics. We have an obligation to provide pathways for people of all backgrounds to enter our industry and thrive.

A Focus on Local Communities

Sometimes we forget that there’s a world of untapped technical talent outside of Silicon Valley. As part of the TechHire initiative, 21 cities all across the nation are stepping forward to engage employees, students, and community advocates with a common goal: provide more pathways to well-paying jobs.

For maximum impact, we need to work with local, community-focused organizations to provide access to education, share knowledge, and reach more Americans who want to learn. At Galvanize, we’ve already seen the power of working with amazing organizations like Women Who Code, The RainbowPush Coalition, and Code for Denver to expand to local communities across the country.

Standardized Education and Outcomes

We’re entering a new era of education, where people learn in months, not years. As exciting as it is to see the entire industry change in such a short period of time, we need to ensure that bootcamps and ether accelerated learning programs are keeping students’ best interests in mind. What does this mean? Transparency and accountability about outcomes.

With the TechHire initiative, Obama has encouraged bootcamps to create a shared, third-party format for sharing completion and employment results. At Galvanize, we’ve always been transparent about placement rates. 96% of our graduates find full-time technical work after graduation, and our team works extremely hard to move that number as close to 100% as we can. With students putting their careers in our hands, we owe it to them to hold ourselves to high completion and placement standards.

As part of this mission, I’m proud to announce that Galvanize is one of of the founding members of the New Economy Skills Training Association (NESTA), a trade organization formed to establish best practices, standards, and increased accountability for outcome-based New Economy Skills Training (NEST) organizations.

This has been an amazing week for our industry, and I encourage us all to follow Obama’s lead to move our country forward. But the journey to uproot our out-of-date educational institutions and provide more opportunities for Americans is just getting started. Let’s get to work.

– Jim Deters, Galvanize co-founder and CEO