The timing of Porter’s article was likely a coincidence since he didn’t mention TechHire. But he did focus on Per Scholas, an IT workforce development organization that’s a TechHire recipient, and more generally on the success of sectoral training—which is what TechHire is encouraging in the 50 communities it has been established in.
Sector partnerships or sector strategies have been around for years. Emsi got started with them in 2011 when we worked with Maher & Maher on the commonwealth of Kentucky’s sector strategies project. More than half of the states have implemented sectoral training strategies, according to a 2014 federal study entitled “What Works in Job Training: A Synthesis of the Evidence.” And these partnerships will become even more widespread after they were required in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
The concept behind sector strategies is simple but potent. The aforementioned study from the DOL and three other federal agencies defined them as “partnerships of employers within one industry that bring government, education, training, economic development, labor, and community organizations together to focus on the workforce needs of an industry within a regional labor market.”
Job training that flows from sector partnerships has been proven to work. Several experiments and students, including one called WorkAdvance that Porter cited, have shown workers in sectoral training have earned higher wages and were more likely to be employed than workers who were part of a control group.
TechHire an Example of Sectoral Training
TechHire, which is focused on expanding accelerated tech training, is a sector strategy playing out on a grand scale. The 39 public and private partnerships that won the recently awarded TechHire grants include education providers, workforce development groups, and business partners—entities that that White House and DOL required work together.
When these three sectors partner in a community or region, the goal of any job training—that the trainees learn skills needed by employers and get on the path to solid careers—is more attainable than if one or more of the parties are absent.
That’s one of the reasons why we’re proud to be partner of Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit organization that is facilitating the implementation and growth of the TechHire network. Through Opportunity@Work, TechHire communities have had access to our labor market information to better understand their key industries and fast-growing occupations.
We were also happy to see many of the workforce development organizations and higher education institutions we work with were part of winning TechHire grant partnerships (see the full list of winners). This includes Goodwill Industries International, which will partner with organizations in Austin, Columbus, and Roanoke to get youth, women, African-Americans, and Latinos into IT careers. It also includes Cerritos College in Los Angeles, Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, and North Central Texas College.
Eastern Kentucky Case Study
Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP) is another Emsi client that has been a key player in the Eastern Kentucky TechHire. In a region ravaged by coal mining closures, TechHire has helped dislocated workers learn how to code. EKCEP is linking regional businesses with jobseekers like Jim Ratliff, who was profiled on TechHire’s website (pictured left):
The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP)—the region’s workforce development organization and staff of the Eastern Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board—partnered with Justice and Parrish to help recruit potential coding interns to fill the firm’s inaugural training cohort.
EKCEP would then use National Emergency Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Labor through its Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) initiative—all under the auspices of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)—to cover the interns’ training wages for their participation in Bit Source’s immersive, 22-week, in-house training program.
Training for Ratliff and his co-workers began in March and ended on August 17, at which point they began working as full-time coders at the firm.
For Ratliff, he says it’s sometimes bizarre to help create websites when, prior to joining Bit Source, he had barely browsed the Web.
“Up until this, I would look for football news and Ranger bass boats—that was what I was experienced with on the Internet,” he says.
But Ratliff says that initial inexperience has been no hindrance. In fact, his position at Bit Source actually has a lot in common with his former career in the coal industry.
“We’re problem solvers. We solve problems through coding and critical thinking,” he explains. “I think one of the big misconceptions about coal miners is that we’re given up on as being intellectually inferior.”
For more on TechHire, read this article from United States Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Ryan Burke, Senior Policy Advisor and Director of TechHire for the National Economic Council. We also encourage you to check out our previously held webinar on using data for TechHire grant applications.
Above image credits to Concordia University, St. Paul and TechHire.