Obama Launches Effort To Boost High-Tech Training, Hiring

Targeting stagnant wages in an otherwise improving economy, President Barack Obama on Monday called on employers, educational institutions and local governments to develop a home grown high technology workforce that could help drive up higher-income employment.

The effort aims not only to attack a stubborn downside of the current economic recovery, but to fill a gaping demand for high-tech workers in the United States.

"We've got to keep positioning ourselves for a constantly changing global economy," Obama said in announcing his "TechHire" initiative at a gathering of the National League of Cities. "If we're not producing enough tech workers, over time that's going to threaten our leadership in global innovation, which is the bread and butter of the 21st century economy."

Obama has obtained commitments from more than 300 employers as well as local governments in 21 regions of the country to train and hire low-skilled workers for jobs in software development, network administration and cybersecurity.

Under the program, the Obama administration will provide $100 million in competitive grants to joint initiatives by employers, training institutions and local governments that target workers who don't have easy access to training. The money comes from fees companies pay to the government to hire higher-skilled foreign workers under the H-1B visa program.

"Too many Americans think these jobs are out of their reach, that these jobs are only in places like Silicon Valley or that they all require an advance degree in computer science. That's just not the case," said Jeff Zients, director of the White House National Economic Council.

Among the communities that have pledged to participate are New York City, Louisville, Detroit, Nashville, San Francisco, and Kansas City, Missouri.

The initiative is designed to prepare U.S. workers for a growing number of technology jobs. According to the White House, of the 5 million jobs available today, more than...

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