President Obama has announced a $100 million employment program called “TechHire”, aimed at getting more ordinary people into the world of high-tech.
If “it’s the economy, stupid” is something of a holy grail for those studying politics, then “tech’s the future, broseph” ought to gain similar significance.
With the global economy still struggling after years of recession, all western nations have scrambled to achieve the comparative economic glory of the early noughties. It is the middle-class in particular who have borne the brunt of the downfall; they are not eligible for any form of poor relief and often don’t have significant enough savings to see them through.
Politicians the world over have recognized the potential inherent in this situation, and President Obama is no different. In an attempt to curry favor with this particular portion of society, a new $100 million initiative named ‘TechHire’ has been debuted.
Capitalizing on the ever growing importance of tech exports to the American economy, this program aims to get more everyday people into the game of high technology. Working through a series of partners, efforts such as Coding Boot Camps and educational establishments, this is an attempt to help more Americans enter this highly-paid (but highly competitive) job market.
It is also intended to help spread the benefits of this industry a little. Tech companies are almost universally referred to by the towns/cities from which they originate; for example, ‘Microsoft’ is inseparable from ‘Redmond’. This implies as much as it means, often the benefits of having such a successful company on your doorstep are limited to local philanthropic efforts, the wealth is spread inwards. Through getting more people involved, from a variety of different areas, this program will hopefully go some way towards addressing this.
Another major issue it is likely to affect is that of diversity. It is commonly stated that tech companies ‘have a problem’ with woman, and unfortunately statistics tend to back this claim up. Out of a work-force numbering in the hundreds of thousands, only 29% of Microsoft employees are female. Whether this reflects on the quality of candidates, or ingrained bias, is impossible to tell. A likely effect of TechHire will be to involve more people of different gender, ethnicity and social class in this high-flying world, most likely to the benefit of all.
To achieve this, beyond free training announced by the tech giants, and money directly invested, a series of community partnerships has been announced as part of the TechHire initiative. 120,000 jobs across 300 partner organizations in 20 regions will be offered to applicants based on their skills, and with the option of fast-track tech training made available.
As the tech world grows more important to the global economy with every passing month and year, and as unemployment rates continue to plague advanced economies everywhere, efforts like this are potentially the start of something greater. If the tech world is to become more egalitarian and open to all, then that is wonderful; however if TechHire is to be anything more than a cynical short term political ploy is impossible to see.
Hopefully this may be the start of change for the better.
Do you support this initiative? Let us know in the comments below.Further reading: Microsoft, President Obama, Redmond, White House