Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday March 20th 2019

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Creating Tech Pipeline

By Duwayne Escobedo

The White House announced last week that Pensacola would be included in the expansion of its TechHire Initiative to 20 cities, states, and rural areas. The expansion increased the number of TechHire communities to 71 across the nation.

The TechHire initiative began in March 2015. It’s based on a simple idea: Building a pipeline of tech talent can bring new jobs to local economies, facilitate business growth, and give local residents a pathway to the middle class. To build such a pipeline, TechHire addresses employers’ great need for technology talent with emerging models for quickly training people with limited incoming technology skills to be job-ready in months, not years.

The TechHire Initiative works with communities and employers on three key actions:

-Opening up recruiting and hiring pathways for people without traditional credentials who can demonstrate that they have the skills to succeed in a tech job regardless of where those skills were attained.

-Recruiting, incubating, and expanding accelerated tech learning programs – such as high-quality coding boot camps and innovative online training – which enable interested, inexperienced students to rapidly gain tech skills.

-Connecting people to jobs by investing in and working with organizations that can vouch for those who have the skills to do the job, but who may lack the typical profile of education and experience.

Since its launch, TechHire communities across the country have piloted fast-track training programs designed to give people skills that are in high demand by employers. So far over 4,000 people have been trained and connected to work opportunities with local employers, earning average salaries of well over median income.

Pensacola State College, who is leading the Pensacola effort, hosted a press conference on Friday, Dec. 2 on its main campus.

“We at Pensacola State are proud of our many technology programs that prepare students for exciting, productive careers,” PSC President Ed Meadows said. “We look forward to working with these businesses and industry partners to provide a highly skilled and educated workforce for Northwest Florida.”

To be named a TechHire Community,  Pensacola State had to go through a competitive application process to gauge its, and the business community’s, levels of commitment and readiness. Pensacola State had to show it had a good relationship with the necessary employers, the trainers on staff, and community support to produce the 200 jobs within three years.

“We are very pleased to welcome Pensacola to the White House TechHire Community Initiative,” said Tess Posner, Managing Director of TechHire at Opportunity@Work. “Pensacola has demonstrated a true commitment to making opportunities in tech more inclusive in your community, and we at Opportunity@Work look forward to working with you to help implement, grow, and amplify your efforts.”

The college and its partners plan to provide short-term high-tech training to about 200 poor, minority and female Pensacola residents by 2020, so they can enjoy exciting, productive careers.

For the Pensacola effort, Pensacola State College will collaborate with Innovation Coast, Inc., which includes community workforce partners Global Business Solutions, Inc.; Technical Software Services Inc.; Gulf Power Company; AppRiver; and Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, to train and place 200 technology workers by 2020.

With a focus on veterans, minorities, and economically disadvantaged individuals in the Pensacola area, students can gain skills across IT fields, including cybersecurity, coding, and networking. In addition to training, this initiative includes opportunities to make connections with potential employers and reduce unemployment.

FloridaWest CEO Scott Luth said that his economic development alliance has been focusing on three targeted industry sectors that could employ the graduates of the TechHire initiative. The community needs to continue to train and grow talent.

Last month, FloridaWest hosted open houses for the Escambia County School District’s high school academies for manufacturing and aviation maintenance.

“If we want to be successful as a community, we’ve got to continue to build that talent,” said Luth.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward attended the event and praised the efforts of Pensacola State College and Innovation Coast.

He said, “If you look at it in the last decade, Pensacola has really come together with the private sector – all of you who are creating that opportunity to create that tech pipeline right here.”

Mayor Hayward added, “I applaud all of you for looking at our talent right here. This is very, very important for all of us. Government doesn’t create jobs. We create an environment so you can thrive.”

The 20 communities joining the TechHire initiative include:
Alachua and Bradford Counties, FL
Anchorage, AL
Arizona (State of)
Bellevue, WA
Boston, MA
Carroll County, MD
Central Florida
El Paso County, TX
Howard County, MD
Mobile, AL
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha, NE
Pensacola, FL
Puerto Rico
Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico
Stamford, CT
Tampa Bay, FL
Toledo, OH
Trenton City, NJ
Tulsa, OK