In an initiative to expand job growth in the country, the White House has named Texas State and Austin Community College part of the TechHire Community.
TechHire is an initiative encouraging communities to make a connection between training programs at colleges and universities with local tech industry jobs. Texas State is now a part of this community in collaboration with Greater San Marcos Partnership, Austin Community College, Capital and Rural Capital Workforce Solutions and the city of Austin.
TechHire looks at regions throughout the United States and creates these communities to help provide an avenue between individuals looking for a job, and tech companies with open jobs in the field. The communities are designed not only to help individuals find jobs, but to help provide the education necessary to succeed.
Mike Midgely, ACC vice president, said the tech programs at ACC are designed to help those who are having problems finding a job, as well as those wanting to go back to school for technology and coding.
ACC offers accelerated online tech programs allowing people in the region to work at a faster pace if they have some knowledge in technology but need certification to find a job. Midgely said they are working with Texas State for these programs because there are a high number of ACC students that transfer to the university.
Midgely said there are several thousand information technology jobs open in this region at any given time.
“This allows us to make this ‘grow your own idea’ in the technology sector a community endeavor,” Midgely said. “It’s not just ACC, it’s not just Texas State, Google, Microsoft—it is all of us working together to accomplish this in a really meaningful way that works for everyone.”
Todd Sherron, director of prior learning assessment at Texas State, said priority should be with the education system. Texas needs to have an educated workforce in order to remain competitive.
“The goal is to provide students with an accelerated IT pathway,” Sherron said. “Which will produce workforce certificates, paid internships, and an undergraduate degree… and then hopefully a job.”
Texas State is also extending the program to San Marcos CISD. University officials are coordinating with the high schools to provide students with training they need to earn a certificate, and turn it into college credit at Texas State.
“(Students) can turn the certificate they earn into college credit if they come to Texas State,” Sherron said. “This will save them time and money, but some of them may choose to go straight to work.”
Ted Lehr, IT data architect for the city of Austin, said the hardest part was getting IT companies on board with the program. The companies involved have agreed to define specific requirements to the schools on what skills are needed, technologically and socially, for students to be interviewed.
“This is an innovative way of looking at new sources for employees,” Lehr said. “Every business needs to have somebody who has some IT competence. TechHire is going to help bring these people together with these companies.”
Lehr has been the facilitator between the White House, the city of Austin, ACC, Texas State, and the tech companies involved. He has worked along with others to bring these entities together in order to make this program a success in the future.
“There are no guarantees in life,” Sherron said. “But with 8,000 available IT jobs in Austin Metro right now, I would suggest that if a student works hard and completes the work, a well-paying job is theirs for the taking.”