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Pensacola State To Lead Local TechHire Program

Pensacola State College

What do Pensacola, Boston, Anchorage, Mobile, and Oklahoma City have in common? They’re among 20 communities now added to a White House program to retrain workers for "Twenty-First Century" jobs.

President Obama in March of last year, rolled out TechHire, an initiative powered by Opportunity-at-Work, a nationwide community based movement.

“We already have over 20 states, cities and rural communities who’ve signed on to fill tech openings,” said Obama at the time. “We’ve got private-sector leaders who are supporting everything from scholarships to job-matching tools. Not out of charity, but because it’s a smart business decision.”

“Building a pipeline of tech talent can bring new jobs to local economies, facilitate business growth and give local residents a pathway into the middle class,” said Ed Meadows, President of Pensacola State College.”

With PSC leading the way, Pensacola joins a national network of 71 TechHire communities. The program carries a simple idea: build a pipeline of tech talent with methods of quickly training people with limited technology skills to become job-ready in months, rather than years.

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Pensacola State College President Ed Meadows

“President Obama wanted an opportunity for the neglected community sectors,” Meadows said. “Minorities, the unemployed, particularly those who lost their jobs because of changes in technology. And also women that did not have the formal education and training to move into a high-tech field.”

All TechHire Communities go through a competitive application process, to gauge their level of commitment and readiness. That is, they have to demonstrate they have the necessary employers, trainers, and civil leadership. Meadows says PSC is a good fit to lead such a program, given its many technology programs which are considered part of the college’s backbone.

In addition, Pensacola State will offer special initiatives to find individuals that have the potential to enroll in some of the short-term workforce certificate programs, and working with local industries to identify such areas where they need workers.

“If you look at it in the last decade, Pensacola has really come together with the private sector – all of you who are creating that opportunity to create that tech pipeline right here,” said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward.

Scott Luth, CEO of Florida West, the economic development arm of the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, says they’re looking at a few things in their three targeted industry sectors.

“Our manufacturing; it’s information technology and cyber, [and] it’s aviation,” Luth said. “All of those are technology-based companies. And making sure we have the appropriate tech talent to support that industry.”

In addition to Pensacola, three other areas in Florida are in the second wave of TechHire designations: Central Florida; Alachua/Broward Counties, and Tampa Bay. More information is available at www.techhire.org, and at www.opportunityatwork.org.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.