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Seizing the TechHire Opportunity in Rural America

Today the Obama Administration is announcing new actions to develop and expand ecosystems of high-quality IT talent in rural America

There’s an exciting trend underway across the country. More and more, major companies are leaving offshore hubs and turning to rural communities in America for high-quality IT talent. In addition to a narrowing wage gap and higher quality of work in these rural areas, the employee attrition rate in rural areas of the U.S. is less than half the rate typically seen in offshore locations.

The Obama Administration has supported the growth of IT jobs in rural America with unprecedented investments in rural broadband and other key infrastructure, and through innovative efforts like the White House TechHire Initiative, a multi-sector initiative and call to action to rapidly train Americans with the skills they need for well-paying, open tech jobs.

It’s a great investment: on average, tech jobs pay 50 percent more than other jobs, and many don’t require a college degree.

But we know there is more to do to help communities seize this remarkable opportunity. That’s why, today, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of South Central Appalachian TechHire, a joint effort by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and private sector employers to develop a world-class ecosystem of tech talent in the heart of Appalachia. Together, South Central Appalachia TechHire will prepare and place over 50 individuals into tech jobs over the next year, and 400 by 2020.

Also today, the U.S. Department of Labor is announcing $150 million in TechHire grants, designed to extend high quality, accelerated tech training opportunities to new communities—including over $30 million in grants for projects serving predominantly rural areas. In South Charleston, West Virginia, for example, $4 million in TechHire grants will help young adults in former coal mining counties train for IT and advanced manufacturing jobs. And in California’s central Sierra region, students with autism spectrum disorders will receive specialized training through $4 million in TechHire grants to help them thrive in IT support and healthcare information work.

Through South Central Appalachia TechHire, southwest Virginia and western North Carolina will build a regional workforce trained in high-paying tech jobs, like software engineering and cybersecurity. It’s truly a collective effort. Madison County, NC will collaborate with local universities and partners like Tech Talent South to offer accelerated tech training through a new coding bootcamp, TechRamp Madison. The 13-week program will prepare graduates for jobs with regional and global technology employers who have committed to the region, including Digital Information Systems (DISYS), Epsilon, Inc. and Tata-BSS. In southwest Virginia, local employers will develop new cybersecurity courses at UVa-Wise and paid internships in high-demand STEM fields, and local community colleges will offer accelerated        training programs for people who want to move from the energy sector into a technology job.

South Central Appalachia TechHire joins a growing cohort of rural TechHire partnerships creating meaningful changes for people and entire communities.

Take Buffalo County, Nebraska, where TechHire Nebraska is driving local technology job growth. They have launched local training partnerships and a technology incubator for software startups building businesses in low-cost and high-talented areas of rural Nebraska. Xpanxion, a professional services company and TechHire partner, has expanded its list of clients that want to hire rural IT workers, and will be joining with the State of Nebraska to build a $5 million technology briefing center in Kearney, creating 30-50 new technology jobs in just over two years.

In eastern Kentucky, about 300 jobs have been created since TechHire launched in Eastern Kentucky in 2015, with an estimated $6 million impact on the local economy. As part of TechHire, the community has continued to expand Teleworks USA hubs as both training and co-working sites to promote remote work opportunities in tech—re-defining what it means to go to the office. And in partnership with Interapt, Eleven Fifty Academy (a nonprofit coding school), and other Kentucky employers, TechHire Eastern Kentucky (TEKY) Initiative will roll out a new work-based learning and internship program this fall, providing IT workforce training, internships, and job opportunities for 50 individuals.

When it comes to creating well-paying IT jobs, today’s announcements only begin to unlock the potential of Appalachia and rural communities across the country. In the coming months, we’ll be meeting with employers and local leaders to learn more about how the Federal government can work with rural communities to take advantage of this growing trend.

Rural America is a place of great need, but also of tremendous opportunity. With places like Buffalo County, Nebraska and Wise, Virginia paving the way, we can build a future worthy of its heritage.

TechHire is a multi-sector initiative and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need to meet critical IT job demand. Through the collaboration of employers, training providers, and workforce development organizations, TechHire communities are using data and innovative hiring practices to expand non-traditional hiring, build accelerated training programs that prepare individuals in months instead of years, and connect people to jobs with hiring on-ramp programs.

Learn more about how to get involved by visiting