Lynchburg Business Insider Blog

Lynchburg, VA Designated a “TechHire” Community

Posted by Lynchburg EDA on Aug 4, 2015 12:30:00 PM

On Tuesday, August 4, the President will host the first-ever White House Demo Day, celebrating the important role entrepreneurship plays in America’s economy. The Demo Day event showcases why communities need to give more entrepreneurs from all walks of life a chance to turn their ideas into indispensable products and services.

Demo Day also includes the announcement of new TechHire communities, localities across the nation who are committed to rapidly training more Americans for well-paying technology jobs.

Lynchburg is Virginia’s first TechHire community and joins cities like Chattanooga, Denver, Louisville, San Francisco, and Detroit in this designation.

Watch White House Demo Day on August 4

Visit the TechHire website

TechHire is a bold multi-sector initiative and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job, often in just a few months. In April, twenty initial cities and states, with over 120,000 open technology jobs and more than 300 employer partners, kicked off TechHire by announcing plans to work together in new ways to create more fast track tech training opportunities and recruit and place applicants based on actual skills. Lynchburg’s designation places it in the first 30 communities nationwide to participate in the TechHire initiative.

Building on the workforce development already underway in Lynchburg, the City and its employer and non-profit partners are committing to three actions:

Using data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring

Having a data-driven assessment of employer demand is critical to building a successful regional strategy. Lynchburg is committing to work with employers to build robust data to support where they have greatest needs and what skills they are looking for. The Lynchburg Economic Development Authority and the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development are working with local employers like Sharp Top Company, BWXT, Delta Star, TRAX, LLC, and NovaTech and to build the capacity to train and hire from both nontraditional and traditional educational pathways.

Expanding models for training that prepare students in months, not years

Lynchburg will recruit, incubate and expand accelerated tech learning programs – such as coding bootcamps and innovative online training – which enable interested non-tech-experienced students to gain coding skills in months, not years. These new models also have potential to reaching to a broader set of students than have traditionally chosen to pursue tech careers.

Tony Erskine, President of Sharp Top Company, will pilot Lynchburg’s first nanodegree program this fall. “At SharpTop Company, mentorship and teaching are critical aspects of our business. We work hard to train interns and apprentices in the same way that our mentors and teachers taught us when we were first starting out in the industry. By sharing our knowledge, we not only help local youth learn new skills, but also help them gain hands-on and real-life experience in the industry before entering the workforce.”

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New training programs can be run both independently or embedded as part of a local community college or university education offering.

“Lynchburg’s designation as a TechHire community is a big step forward in advancing Lynchburg’s opportunities for workforce development. Central Virginia Community College is the bridge between employers and the local workforce. We meet regularly with employers to ensure that our curricula meet their needs. Introducing nanodegrees and short-term training opportunities for Lynchburg is a natural fit with CVCC’s long-term vision for the future” said John Capps, Central Virginia Community College President.

Active local leadership to connect people to jobs with hiring on ramp programs

Lynchburg will build local strategies and partnerships to connect people to jobs, with steps ranging from investing in and working with industry-trusted organizations, which will vouch for those who have the skills to do the job but who may lack the typical profile of degrees and career experience.

John Kenney, President of TRAX, LLC, said, “From an employer’s perspective, TechHire is a very exciting prospect. The needs of our business are constantly changing and it is important that I can meet them quickly. Expanding condensed, short-term training opportunities that are tailored to my specific workforce needs will allow me to bring on interns or employees who are ready for work on day one. From a technology standpoint, TechHire is an exciting opportunity for us to apply training technology that TRAX has developed to build and/or modify curriculum applicable to our local partners or partnerships around the globe."

As a part of the TechHire initiative, The Administration will launch a $100 million H-1B grant competition by the Department of Labor to support innovative approaches to training and successfully employing low-skill individuals with barriers to training and employment including those with child care responsibilities, people with disabilities, disconnected youth, and limited English proficient workers, among others. This grant competition, open to designated TechHire communities, will support the scaling up of evidence-based strategies such as accelerated learning, work-based learning, and Registered Apprenticeships.

The Lynchburg Economic Development Authority and the City of Lynchburg’s Office of Economic Development will partner with local employers, the Lynchburg Beacon of Hope, and Central Virginia Community College to identify and train students for a 21st century workforce. Lynchburg has committed to training 75 people through nanodegree programs by the end of 2016 and aims to have a total of 15 employer and training provider partners by the end of 2015.

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