Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke announced today that the City is joining forces with Unum, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, and others to launch a new TechHire Initiative to increase access to technology training and IT jobs for Chattanoogans. The nationwide kick-off for the TechHire Initiative will occur today at the National League of Cities (NLC) summit in Washington D.C. where President Obama will announce twenty-one communities, including Chattanooga, to lead this effort.
“I hear from companies that they have a hard time filling good, middle class IT jobs. I want those jobs to be filled by Chattanoogans, and this initiative makes that more likely,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.
The White House estimates there are about 5 million open jobs today in the United States, more than at any point since 2001. Over half a million of those are in fields like software development, network administration, and cybersecurity, many of which did not exist just a decade ago.
By utilizing public-private partnerships, TechHire is designed to empower Americans with the skills they need through universities and community colleges but also through nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps,” and high-quality online courses that rapidly train workers for a well-paying job. This training can often occur in just a few months, as many of these programs do not require a four-year degree.
“We are excited to join in this important public-private partnership,” said Kate Miller, Chief Information Officer for Unum. “The need for well-trained, talented technology professionals will only continue to grow, and using new approaches to training and recruitment will ensure we are successful in the future.”
As part of the initiative, the City of Chattanooga has convened a Task Force made up of key partners like Unum, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, EPB and the Lamp Post Group to determine the needs of employers, train new workers, and recruit candidates in underrepresented communities.
“We are the Gig City, and we should make sure people have an opportunity to play a role in the Gig City,” said Chattanooga City Council member, Chris Anderson, who also serves as Chair of the Council’s Economic & Community Development Committee and was present at the NLC conference. “The first step is to educate and engage our citizens, so they can participate in these future economic development opportunities in our city.”
Local organizations that make up Chattanooga’s TechHire Task Force include:
- City of Chattanooga
- The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)
- Chattanooga State Technical Community College
- A.I.R. Labs
- The Enterprise Center (TEC)
- The Company Lab (CO:LAB)
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST)
- Unum Group
- The Lamp Post Group
- Erlanger Hospital
- Public Education Foundation (PEF)
- TN Code Academy/ Girls Who Code
- Chattanooga Public Library — 4th Floor
To kick off TechHire, twenty-one regions with open technology jobs, and more than 300 employers, are announcing plans to work together to create more tech training opportunities. During today’s announcement, President Obama will challenge more cities, regions, and communities to follow in the footsteps of the inaugural communities.
To learn more about the TechHire initiative, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/technology/techhire and view the fact sheet at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/09/fact-sheet-president-obama-launches-new-techhire-initiative.
Non-profits, companies, and educational organizations interested in becoming a partner in Chattanooga’s TechHire Initiative should contact Nick Wilkinson at 423-643-7340 to learn more.