Today, there are around 5.5 million unfilled jobs in the United States. According to the White House, over half of these openings are in technology fields including software development, network administration, and cybersecurity. These are just the current numbers. By 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates computer-related occupations will yield more than 1.3 million job openings - openings at major technology companies and yet-to-be-founded startups. Meanwhile, millions of Americans, notably young Americans, are out of work or under-employed. This significant gap inspired the White House’s TechHire initiative, which launched last March. The effort involves education and employer partnerships in dozens of regions across the U.S., all dedicated to training, recruiting, and placing more Americans in tech jobs.
This week, the administration announced it’s expanding the program with a $100 million grant competition for programs focused on supporting more Americans in accessing these high-demand, well-paying jobs with $50 million set aside for 17 to 29-year-olds. The Department of Labor has released the application for these grants and says awards will be made next year. It’s specifically looking for innovative programs that serve Americans who face barriers to entering the tech sector, whether those are educational, geographical or income-based.
The need for these programs is real. As we’ve highlighted and discussed at length, today’s tech sector is far too homogeneous in both its makeup of both employees as well as founders. This is bad for the industry: We know more diverse teams perform better. It’s bad for users: Technology’s tools are used by everyone, so should be developed by a greater diversity of thinkers with different experiences and backgrounds. And as the numbers show, it’s bad for our economy: We simply need more Americans filling these jobs.
Coding bootcamps are among the innovative educational programs this new grant could support. Bootcamps teach students job-ready web development languages at an accelerated pace, usually within a few months. Curriculums are often designed for and highly adaptable to market demand, allowing some bootcamps to boast job placement rates of over 90 percent. Yet, a majority of the students enrolling in coding bootcamps pay out of pocket - many programs are mpt accredited and therefore, ineligible for federal student aid. These students are also predominantly white men with bachelor’s degrees. Grant funding could expand access to these programs for more potential tech workers.
Representatives from the White House discussed the new grant at an event in Baltimore earlier this week, one of the 35 cities, states, and rural areas that have established TechHire-supported programs. Our trip to Baltimore last month showcased the city’s commitment to bringing more residents into its emerging tech workforce. National companies like Under Armour, and newer startups like ZeroFox, are leading the city’s startup ecosystem there. With concerted efforts to train more local talent, these companies could soon have new hiring pools to tap into. As one Baltimore investor told the audience, tech talent is more important to growing local companies than capital.