Louisville Joins Federal Effort To Increase Access To Tech Jobs

Mar 9, 2015

The skyline of downtown Louisville
Credit Flickr/Creative Commons

Louisville is one of 21 communities across the U.S. committing to increasing access to high tech jobs, city officials said Monday.

The city’s effort is part of a larger federal initiative announced Monday aimed at getting Americans to fill the increasing number of vacant information technology jobs in the U.S.

Employers around the country are having a hard time finding qualified and skilled workers for these positions. The national initiative, announced by President Obama, aims to get communities to train people for those jobs.

During a conference call with the White House, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was identified as one of the community leaders working with employers and the federal government to extend training opportunities to residents.

“Technology skill shortage has been a big deal for quite some time,” Fischer said. “We’ve been focused on it in Louisville since I took office a little bit over four years ago, and creating this national mutual learning network of cities is a super-smart idea. So, we are appreciative to be part of that.”

Among the city’s efforts is Code Louisville—a free 12-week online coding workshop that anyone with a library card can access. Since the city launched the program, the federal government has granted it $2.9 million.

Fischer said alternative training has been essential in getting people trained for IT work.

“The world’s technology needs are just moving a lot faster than traditional education solutions,” Fischer said. “That’s the fundamental problem here. So that’s why these non-conventional methods are needed now.”

The Obama Administration wants to expand efforts such as Code Louisville to as many U.S. cities as possible, said Megan Smith, the White House’s chief technology officer, during the conference call.

“I think that the main thing for us is getting the ecosystems moving and helping other cities to be aware of these alternative training methods, adopt these boot camps and bring their tech community together so they can fill their jobs that are open basically across the country,” Smith said.

The federal initiative also includes a $100 million dollars in competitive grants for cities looking to expand technology training in their communities. Louisville will be among the cities in the running for those grants.