Today, Vice President Joe Biden and Department of Labor Secretary Perez announced the release of $150 million in Department of Labor grants for 39 partnerships across the country, including a four-year, $3.8 million award for the Seattle—King County TechHire program. TechHire is a multi-sector White House initiative and call-to-action to empower Americans with the skills they need through universities and community colleges, as well as nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a good-paying job.
Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth, with over 63,000 new jobs created in the last five years, primarily driven by a booming technology sector. TechHire will create pathways for Seattle-area residents, and particularly those with barriers to employment, to share in this growth.
“We are delighted that our partners have received this award from the White House, and with this additional support, we look forward to expanding their great work with an eye towards a more equitable and innovative regional economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray.
This grant award complements the City of Seattle’s designation as a TechHire community in March of this year, through which the City has committed to serving up to 2,000 candidates by 2020, with a focus on women, people of color, and formerly incarcerated individuals. Seattle Central College submitted the application for this award: “We are excited to promote our mission of providing opportunities for academic achievement, workplace preparation, and service to the community through primary partnerships with LaunchCode, the City of Seattle, and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. Partners will address supporting new tech talent in a market with supply deficit through accelerated computer programming learning opportunities, registered apprenticeships, and job placement services that result in strong employment outcomes for nontraditional tech talent: people without the traditional credentials to become employed in high-wage IT careers,” explained Dr. Andrea Samuels, Seattle Central’s Interim Dean of Workforce Education. Area employers such as EnergySavvy, Moz and Substantial also pledged their support, as did King County. “Our region’s economic boom is fueled by our thriving tech and manufacturing industries, yet too many good-paying jobs are going unfilled,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “These federal grants will help local governments, businesses and educators work together to connect more people to more opportunities in King County.”
In the past three months since Seattle’s designation as a TechHire community, the City of Seattle convened over 65 training providers, community organizations, employers, and community members in support of the effort. “For us, finding the right hires is about more than just having a computer science degree. Instead, we’re looking for a breadth of experiences to help us build products for a breadth of clients. TechHire-affiliated programs are a vehicle for widening the pipeline, meaning that the best and brightest can find their way to our doorstep even without a traditional educational route,” explained Donte Parks, VP of Culture at digital product studio Substantial. With a long-standing commitment to inclusive hiring, Substantial is one of the original sponsors of Ada Developers Academy, a tuition-free programming school for women and TechHire partner.
Ada graduate Amira Hailemariam describes the impact of this accelerated training program. A first generation US Citizen, the daughter of immigrants from Belize and Ethiopia, 25-year-old Amira was recently able to move out of her parents’ home. “One year after applying to Ada Developer’s Academy, I’m now a Software Development Engineer at Amazon.com, and I recently moved into my one-bedroom apartment. The best thing about participating in Ada Developer’s Academy is forever a part of a supportive, intelligent network of women.”
In addition to expanding the impact of Ada Developers Academy, this grant will enable the local launch of Unloop, training for people who have been in prison, Floodgate Academy, a developer operations training focused on underrepresented communities, and LaunchCode, which connects students at no cost to companies offering mentorship and training through paid apprenticeships. LaunchCode has successfully launched and grown this model in four U.S. cities, achieving 90 percent placement rates and more than doubling salaries of participants. “Less than three years ago, LaunchCode started as an experiment to see if companies would take on talented job candidates typically overlooked by HR departments. Four hundred apprenticeships later, we have shown our model works, and with funding through Department of Labor TechHire grants, LaunchCode will be able to expand to Seattle and help more people reach their potential through education, apprenticeships, and jobs in technology,” said LaunchCode Executive Director Brendan Lind.
The City of Seattle was also pleased to provide support for Everett Community College’s grant application, which received a $3.8 million funding award as part of the Department of Labor grant. Through the “MechaWA Partnership Project”, Everett Community College and the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing will partner with Boeing and the City of Seattle to introduce currently unemployed young adults to opportunities in the Aerospace industry.
“Today’s grant awards represent a tremendous opportunity for our City and region to bolster employment in our key sectors, and improve access to life-changing career opportunities for our residents,” said Murray.