Seattle was recognized Tuesday as a TechHire community as part of the White House’s national jobs initiative. This program for underemployed adults convenes employers, educators and workforce partners to provide accelerated training, internship and employment opportunities in the technology sector. Seattle’s commitment has an explicit focus on historically under-represented communities: women and people of color.
“With the TechHire initiative, more Seattle residents will fully participate in this growth industry with access to pathways leading to life-changing, meaningful careers,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We will leverage this program and the White House’s support to launch new local initiatives, extend the impact of our Summer Youth Employment Program, and accelerate the incredible work of community partners.”
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. Employers across the United States are in critical need of talent with these skills.
With partnership from local tech employers EnergySavvy, Skytap, Substantial and Moz, as well as stakeholders including Seattle Colleges, LaunchCode, the Workforce Development Council of King County, the City of Seattle will train over 350 people this year, and place at least 2,000 in tech jobs by 2020.
Seattle is experiencing unprecedented growth, with over 63,000 new jobs created in the last five years, primarily driven by a booming technology sector. The city has also been recognized as one of the fastest growing startup ecosystems in the nation. All of this growth brings opportunity; in the last 30 days, Seattle businesses have posted 1,800 job openings for software developers alone.
Through its Office of Economic Development, the City of Seattle will work to ensure educational curriculum is aligned with real-time job openings, collecting and analyzing job data by partnering with Linkedin and Burning Glass Labor Insight. Employer engagement is critical to success for this initiative, and industry leaders Amazon, Boeing, Expedia and Microsoft have pledged their support.
In addition to training providers such as the WTIA Workforce Institute, Galvanize and Code Fellows, Seattle’s TechHire initiative will also work to increase diversity and inclusion in the technology sector. Training providers include: Ada Developers Academy, a software development training for women; Unloop,training for people who have been in prison to succeed in careers in tech; and Floodgate Academy, a developer operations training focused on underrepresented communities will focus on this work.
Shadae Holmes is a local graduate of Ada Developers Academy, a tuition-free programming school for women.
“I am a woman, I am a software developer, I am black and I am a mentor to others like me,” said Holmes. “However, the current system is not set up for me. Like many others in high school and college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Through a fluke, I found the Ada Developers Academy. I was soon placed at an internship at Foundry Interactive, a small tech consulting company, which boasts a 50/50 male-to-female ratio. Not only are they committed to diversity with their deeds—they are thriving. I’m happy to report I have been working full time at Foundry for over two years, gaining experience and finding my own voice.”
EnergySavvy is a Seattle technology company that launched in 2008 with a commitment to improving energy efficiency through software. The firm has been a sponsor of Ada Developers Academy since its inception.
“We’ve had fantastic results with Ada as a talent source – we’ve hired 3 graduates full-time, have a 4th completing her internship soon and a 5th beginning her internship in April,” said Scott Case, Chief Operating Officer of EnergySavvy and Board Chair of Ada. “EnergySavvy’s software engineering organization is now 30 percent female – that’s three times the national average. The biggest limiter for our continued success as a company is the ability to attract great tech talent. Ada has allowed us to do that while increasing the diversity of our workforce, making our company better and more productive overall. We’re thrilled that the City of Seattle is now part of this broader national effort. It gives us a chance to ramp up the scale of what is already working really well.”