On November 17, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the White House issued a funding announcement releasing $100 million in grants as a part of the Obama Administration’s TechHire Initiative, which specifically calls out funding to train workers in the cybersecurity and broadband industries.  DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) expects to award 30-40 grants ranging from $2 million to $5 million.  Applications for the two-year grant are due March 11, 2016 with projects beginning June 1, 2016.

The White House kicked off the TechHire initiative in the Spring of 2015, with 21 communities committing to using data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring; preparing students in months, not years; and activating local leadership to connect people to jobs. According to DOL, the United States has about 5.4 million jobs open today in software development, network administration and cybersecurity with projected growth at a rate that is two-thirds higher than the average for all jobs.  To help close the digital divide and make America more competitive in global innovation, the White House and DOL designed a public-private partnership grant program to connect target populations access to new and innovative training through a multi-sector approach.

The TechHire Initiative focuses on building the American workforce in H-1B visa industries.  H-1B visas, a non-immigrant visa, enables U.S. employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations in the United States for a specified period. These H-1B visa industries are IT and IT-related industries such as cybersecurity and broadband, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services, and educational services.  TechHire is providing funding to partnerships, which will rapidly train workers and connect them to high-skilled and high-growth jobs across these specific industries.

While TechHire does not fund infrastructure or equipment, this program is one of the more substantial federal grants available, specifically geared to training workers in the broadband and cybersecurity sector.  If your company is interested in a grant to cover workforce innovation and help to train and grow skilled workers, TechHire represents a unique opportunity to participate in a White House initiative.

Applicants must select one of three program tracks and partner with at least three employers or a regional industry association with at least three employer partners representing the H-1B occupations and industries.  Applicants may propose to serve a local, regional, or multi-regional area within or across state lines.  Applicants for a grant must apply as a public-private partnership where the lead applicant includes a representative from each of the following:

  • the public workforce investment system;
  • education and training providers, such as community colleges, community-based and faith-based organizations, and “bootcamp” style tech programs; and
  • a business-related nonprofit organization, an organization functioning as a workforce intermediary for the expressed purpose of serving the needs of businesses, a consortium of three or more of businesses, or at least three independent businesses. Business-related nonprofit organizations include trade or industry associations such as local Chambers of Commerce, Technology Associations, Chief Information Officer Roundtables, small business federations, and labor-management organizations.  For-profit consortia of businesses may participate in the primary partnership but may not be the lead applicant. Eligible lead applicants must be a public or non-profit organization.

TechHire seeks to address the following goals:

  1. Expand access to accelerated learning options that provide the fastest paths to good jobs, such as “bootcamp” style programs, online options, and competency-based programs to provide the skills required for employment in three months to two years among those with historic barriers to accessing employment and training;
  2. Improve the likelihood that those populations complete training and enter employment, through specialized training strategies, supportive services and other focused participant services that assist targeted populations to overcome barriers, including networking and job search, active job development, transportation, mentoring, and financial counseling;
  3. Connect those who have received training or who already have the skills required for employment, but are being overlooked, to employment, paid internships, or Registered Apprenticeship opportunities;
  4. Demonstrate strong commitment to customer-centered design and excellence in customer experience; and
  5. Ensure that innovations form the basis for broader change and sustainability over time and that a clear strategy exists for adapting to rapidly changing market needs after the initial period of the grant.

Specifically, the grant targets the following populations: out-of-secondary school youth and young adults between the ages of 17 and 29 with barriers to training and employment, or individuals with disabilities, individuals with limited English proficiency, or individuals with criminal records. These individuals must be at least 17 years of age and out of secondary school.