Newspaper article

White House's TechHire Job Training Initiative Takes Root in the Twin Cities

Newspaper article

White House's TechHire Job Training Initiative Takes Root in the Twin Cities

Article excerpt

Just two years ago, U.S. Army veteran Chelsea Okey couldn't imagine she would become a trained software developer with a full- time job at SmartThings, the Samsung-owned company that makes technology devices for smart homes.

Okey's career journey began a year ago, when she registered last March at Prime Digital Academy, a Bloomington-based coding boot camp that provides accelerated programs in HTML, CSS and Javascript coding languages, among other things.

Prime and two other educational facilities -- IT Ready of Minneapolis and The Software Guild of St. Paul's Concordia University -- have become popular training grounds in the Twin Cities metro area for students like Okey, who are seeking opportunities to gain technology skills in a short period of time.

Today, the three technology training schools are also partners in TechHire, a White House initiative unveiled last year that's designed to train people for information technology jobs who have long been underrepresented in the industry.

"The initiative basically gets people who have no knowledge about programming to be able to become full developers in 18 weeks," said Okey, who graduated from Prime last June.

How it works

In the spring of 2015, President Obama announced Minneapolis as one of the first cities to participate in the initiative. The city has long-funded local programs, like IT Ready, to help increase access to tech jobs among women and people of color. But TechHire, which will award $100 million in grants to communities throughout the nation, has allowed the city to expand its efforts.

As part of the program, last year the city joined forces with Prime Digital Academy and the Software Guild (while continuing to work with IT Ready) and 60 regional employers. The goal is to produce a well-trained and diverse workforce to help fulfill the needs of the region's fast-growing tech industry by providing scholarships at the partner educational institutions for women and people of color who are residents of Minneapolis and live on less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Through Prime, IT Ready and The Guild programs, trainees develop skills as software developers, computer programmers, quality assistant engineers, service desk analysists and user support specialists. …

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