Colorado’s a pilot region for Obama administration’s TechHire job-training push

, Reporter- Denver Business Journal.

Colorado is among 21 regions chosen by the Obama administration as pilot areas for improving technology workforce development through public-private partnerships.

The TechHire program, unveiled by the White House Monday, will work with a local coalition including the Colorado Technology Association, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment, and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).

The partnership plans to expand opportunities to train people in technology skills, such as computer programming, and to broaden worker recruiting efforts among local companies needing IT help.

“We are thrilled that TechHire has chosen Colorado as one of their pilot regions, and know it will provide a great path for Coloradans to access high-demand jobs quickly, meet critical needs for our businesses, and help strengthen our economy,” said Fiona Arnold, executive director of OEDIT.

The TechHire program aims to work with universities and community colleges as well as nontraditional programs, like online training and computer coding boot camps.

TechHire research estimates that there are 104,945 IT jobs in Colorado, the largest IT market in the TechHire program that’s not on the East or West Coast.

The program predicts 21 percent growth over 10 years, or the addition another 21,636 IT jobs in the state. Nationally, there’s as many as 500,000 IT jobs that could be filled today, the White House estimates.

TechHire puts particular emphasis on programs that quickly train workers and open doors for non-traditional hires in tech.

“We have to think big and think differently about training the workforce of the 21st century,” said state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, who is working with the state agencies and industry partners to increase training opportunities for high-paying jobs in technical fields.

Pabon plans to organize a series of feedback sessions with business leaders in coming weeks to get the TechHire program started in the state, said Gordon Bronson, a senior advisor to Pabon.

Swiftpage, a Denver-based business software company, is among the companies taking part in the TechHire efforts.

Denver-based SeedPaths, which trains computer programmers and app developers and helping place them at local companies, also is participating. SeedPaths focuses on training and job placement in IT for people who are economically disadvantaged, and it makes heavy use of federal workforce grants for its programs and has boasted an 80-percent job placement rate in its first four boot camps, the company said

Swiftpage is among the local companies that have hired SeedPaths graduates.

The Turing School of Software & Design, a Denver company that offers intensive software design courses, is also among the organizations with which Pabon’s office is working, Bronson said.

The White House also announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Labor plans to start a grant program that aims to make $100 million available to tech workforce training efforts nationwide, with an emphasis on women, minorities and people with limit English language ability and people with disabilities.

The fees paid by companies buying H1-B work visas to bring specialized workers into the country is the expected source of funds for the program.

Applications for the grants are expected in the fall, with awards made some time next year, the White House said.

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