By Bill Parry
The White House has awarded LaGuardia Community College a $3.9 million grant to provide free tech industry training for at-risk and disadvantaged young people, ages 17 to 29.
One of just 39 programs in 24 states nationwide, and one of only two in New York City, the grant is part of TechHire, a $150 million initiative by the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Labor to train individuals in coding, software development, systems management and other in-demand high-tech specialty area.
“Being selected by the White House and the U.S. Department of Labor for this highly competitive TechHire grant, which reflects our understanding of the fast-evolving needs of the tech industry and our dedication to helping people get out of poverty and into the middle class through education, is very gratifying,” LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow said.
The LaGuardia program, known as TechIMPACT, will offer accelerated tech training for more than 300 low-income young adults over the next three years, in partnership with General Assembly, Udacity, and Software Guild, with tools created by industry experts at large tech companies like Google and Facebook. The training will be provided at no cost to the participants.
“There are more than 600,000 IT jobs in the U.S. open today, and tech jobs pay 1 1/2 times the average wage of a private sector job,” General Assembly CEO Jake Schwatrz said. “TechIMPACT is about creating pathways toward a high paying job for a population that has been boxed-out of the tech industry. We are excited for the opportunity to help build a more diverse talent pipeline.”
Training will focus on in-demand skills, including Web development, Java, and computer network support, informed by the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline through LinkedIn’s first-ever analysis of the city’s 3.1 million LinkedIn members.
“Our experts will provide training in coding, a skill that’s an integral part of today’s job market,” The Software Guild Chief Academic Officer Eric Wise said. “We look forward to helping students who have the drive to succeed but not always the necessary economic support to learn these valuable skills.”
In addition to receiving a foundation in digital and tech literacy, participants will have access to career planning, free MetroCards, child care services, mentors and other support services to help keep them on track towards completing the program and help them address any life challenges that arise before they force them to drop out. TechIMPACT will team with partners to help graduates find paid internships with participating employers from IBM to small businesses.
For long-term hiring, a multitude of hiring partners have signed on to interview qualified candidates, including IBM, Wal-Mart, Xerox and others.
“We want to help program graduates secure job opportunities right away so they don’t get discouraged if they don’t find work quickly,” Mellow said. “We are excited to empower a new tech workforce that will help diversify and strengthen NYC’s Tech Talent Pipeline.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr