Remarks by the President on TechHire Initiative
6:15 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Hello! (Applause.) Please, please, have a seat. Have a seat. Well, first of all, sorry I'm late. (Laughter.) I had a couple things I had to do. (Laughter.) And obviously, when you're the President, you’ve got -- national security always take top priority. But I wanted to make sure that I still made it. And I'm so grateful that all of you were willing to come back and in welcoming me in this way.
It is great to be back in Louisville. It is great to be here at InDatus. This is such a spiffy-looking company, I'm thinking about remodeling at the White House. (Laughter.) Everything is so hip and cool and guys with, like, cool beards are -- (laughter) -- typing stuff. And it just looks wonderful.
But the reason I'm here is not just because it looks hip and cool, but because what’s happening here is essential to America, and we want to lift it up and we want people to see what’s possible in developing the kind of innovation and job creation here in the 21st century, knowing that we can succeed. This company and the network that's been developed here in Louisville are helping to prepare people of all ages for the higher-paying, in-demand jobs of the future. And we need to get more of that done.
I want to thank David for the introduction and his graciousness in hosting us. There are other folks that I want to acknowledge because they have been great friends and are doing a tremendous job on behalf of their constituencies -- your outstanding Governor Steve Beshear is here. (Applause.) Congressman John Yarmuth is here. (Applause.) Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who not only gave me a Slugger, but also a really big suitcase full of bourbon. (Laughter and applause.) I mean, it's a really big case. (Laughter.) And the man who served as mayor before him who now works with me at the White House, doing outstanding work with mayors and governors and county officials all across the country -- my dear friend, Jerry Abramson. (Applause.) Where’s Jerry? There he is back there. (Applause.)
So, over the past five years, our businesses have created 12 million new jobs -- over 12 million new jobs. Right now, America has more open jobs than at any point since 2001. And more than half a million openings are in tech -- nearly 2,000 here in Louisville alone. Tech jobs pay one-and-a-half times the average private sector wage. So they’re great pathways to the middle class. And what’s more, a highly trained workforce is vital for America’s long-term global economic leadership. It attracts more entrepreneurship; it attracts investors from overseas because they’re looking for an outstanding workforce.
And that’s the idea behind a new initiative of ours that we're calling TechHire. It's a pretty simple concept. It brings employers and local governments together to support innovative job training programs -- like online classes, coding boot camps, community college courses designed by local employers.
Eastern Kentucky is a TechHire Community. So is Louisville. More than 20 employers have joined it so far, including InDatus. You’re mentoring students at Code Louisville and you’ve pledged to hire their graduates. And that’s what smart training looks like -- faster, cheaper, innovative, providing new pathways -- less conventional pathways, in some cases -- for careers in tech.
And my administration is proud to be investing in Code Louisville, because we want more places to follow Kentucky’s example. We should invest in what works -- apprenticeships that give on-the-job training, gives them industry credentials that let anybody who can do the job get the job, whether they’re self-taught or have a degree. And the budget that I sent to Congress includes these priorities. Today, we’re going to unveil workforce reforms that do the same.
And just to give you a specific example -- I hope he doesn’t mind. Maybe he’s here, or maybe he’s still back somewhere. The reason I remember this guy is because his name is Ben Cool --which is a really cool name. (Laughter.) I mean, I kind of wish my name was Ben Cool. (Laughter.) Ben doesn’t have a college degree, but because of the work that's done is open-source, Ben essentially was able to teach himself. And because InDatus recognizes that not all talent goes through conventional pathways, it was able to set up a structure whereby Ben could show what he knew, how well he could do it, and InDatus was able to hire him and now they’ve got an outstanding coder and somebody who’s providing enormous value to the company -- which might have been missed had it not been for these kinds of different pathways.
And then I just heard a story -- if I'm not mistaken, Ben, you had a friend who came here and started working in -- what -- customer service?
THE PRESIDENT: Also didn’t have a degree in computer science or coding, but then he ended up taking an hour class a couple hours a week, teaching himself, getting trained, and now he’s doing coding as well. So that's the idea here, is that there are a lot of different pathways that we create so that more and more people can get trained in the jobs of the future, and we're not restricting ourselves to one narrow path.
And we're making sure that everybody has opportunity and everybody has a shot. And we're investing in the job training and apprenticeships and on-the-job training and online training that it's going to take to make sure that anybody can access a good job if they’re willing to work hard and apply themselves and focus.
Now, this doesn’t cost huge amounts of money, but it does cost some money to do it right and to do it well. And that's why it's reflected in my budget, for us to put more money into job training, apprenticeships, and these kinds of public-private partnerships that we're talking about. And there’s going to be a big debate coming up around the budget.
Republicans in Congress have put forward their budget and it provides tax cuts to folks like me and folks who are doing pretty darn well, but it would cut right now job training for 2.2 million people, including 28,800 right here in Kentucky. And that's just not the right way for us to plan in terms of long-term growth and stability.
Our economy has been growing. We've got momentum, but that momentum can stall. Because the economies in Europe are weak, the economies in Asia are weak, the dollar is becoming stronger because a lot of people want to park their money here. They think it's safer. They’re investing here more. But that makes our exports more expensive. And so we've got to stay hungry. We can't just sit back and assume that growth continues at the kind of pace that we need to give opportunity for all the young people of the future.
And that's why this is so important. So we can't prioritize tax cuts for folks at the very top and sacrifice the kinds of job-training efforts and apprenticeships that our young people are going to need. (Applause.)
So, in case you think I'm exaggerating, I mean, one of the laws that my friends on the other side of the aisle are trying to pass right now is a new, deficit-busting tax cut for a fraction of the top one-tenth of 1 percent -- that’s fewer than 50 people here in Kentucky who would, on average, get a couple million dollars in tax breaks. For that amount of money, we can provide thousands of people the kind of training they need. And that’s just not the way that we're going to build an economy that strengthens our middle class and provides ladders for people getting into the middle class.
Our economy has grown since the crisis, but when you look at what’s happened, middle-class folks, their wages, their incomes just haven't gone up that much. And a lot of folks are still struggling to get by. And our economy works best when everybody has a stake and everybody is getting ahead. (Applause.) When that happens, we all do well. And by the way, when that happens, businesses do well, because they have more customers. And our economy grows best from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down. And we've got to keep that in mind as we go forward.
But let me again just congratulate InDatus for the outstanding work that they’re doing. I want to congratulate the Mayor and the Governor, and all the folks who are participating in making sure that TechHire gets off the ground, not just here in Louisville but across the state and across the country. For all the young people who are -- especially the really young ones -- make sure to study math and science, because you guys are going to be our future. We're very, very proud of you.
And once again, thanks for being so patient with me, despite the delays. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
6:26 P.M. EDT