The U.S. economy is experiencing a breakthrough year. Nearly 300,000 new jobs were created in February. That is part of the 12 million private-sector jobs created over five straight years of job growth. And the national unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 % — the lowest rate in seven years.
We’ve gone from an economic crisis to recovery to the cusp of an economic resurgence. But there’s one thing we have to do to continue the momentum: train America’s workforce for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.
Right now there are five million unfilled jobs in fields like health care, advanced manufacturing, and clean energy. That’s more job openings than at any point since 2001. More than half a million of these job are in technology fields like software development, network administration, and cybersecurity. Many of these jobs didn’t even exist just a decade ago. Many of them pay 50 percent more than other private-sector jobs.
These are good-paying, middle-class jobs that you can raise a family on. But when these jobs go begging, it’s a missed opportunity for workers, for businesses, and our economy.
Last summer, the Vice President released a comprehensive report detailing specific ways to seize the opportunity. Based off the report, the Administration launched TechHire yesterday — a bold public-private initiative to equip more Americans with the skills they need for in-demand technology jobs.
TechHire brings together more than 20 cities, states, and rural communities — including Delaware — to fill open technology jobs in new ways. Traditionally, employers recruit students with computer science degrees from a four-year college, often overlooking quality candidates graduating from our community colleges, serving in our military, or learning on their own. But TechHire communities will break the mold and help local employers hire workers based on skill rather than where or if they went to college. They also will promote faster training programs, like three to six month “coding bootcamps” and online courses. And they will engage with the private sector to make it easier for someone to know exactly what skills are needed for a job, where to go to get those skills, and where to go to apply for the job.
This new model has the profound potential to reach people who are too often underrepresented in technology fields—women, minorities, veterans, and lower-income workers who are absolutely capable of doing the job if given the chance.
In Delaware, several of the state’s biggest employers are joining the effort as part of the Governor’s “Pathways to Prosperity initiative.” They plan to fill thousands of technology jobs through accelerated training programs at local colleges and at a “coding school” launching this fall. Six employers, including JP Morgan Chase and Capital One, have committed to hire people who successfully complete these short-term programs, which will allow them to become software developers in months rather than years.
TechHire is an important step forward if we want all Americans to benefit from the changing economy. But we need more cities and states to incorporate initiatives like it into their economic development plans.
That’s because we know one thing for certain: Americans are ready to take on these jobs. They want to provide for themselves and their families. We’ve met them in Delaware and across the country. We’ve seen the real courage it requires to take a chance, learn a new skill or new language like coding, and say, “I can do this.”
That’s what this is all about. By helping workers fill the hundreds of thousands of 21st Century jobs that await them, we can capture this gigantic opportunity that’s good for our workers, our businesses, and our economy.
That’s how we ensure a permanent resurgence of the most dynamic economy in the world led by the most skilled workers in the world.