A multi-agency partnership, along with the help of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, secured a $3.8 million grant from the federal government to develop training in the University Area of North Tampa, providing education specifically for technology-related jobs.
This week Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced the award of 39 TechHire Partnership Grants across the nation, including the one in Tampa.
The grant was the result of a partnership between CareerSource Tampa Bay, University Area Community Development Corp., Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay Technology Forum and the Tampa Bay Innovation Alliance.
“There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together,” said Mark Sharpe, president and CEO of the Tampa Innovation Alliance in a statement announcing the grant. “We applaud Congresswoman Castor’s leadership in winning the TechHire grant and are committed to making sure that all our citizens can participate in the tech economy.”
The grant will impact the University Area in North Tampa, an area that “continues to evolve with a focus on becoming an innovation district,” said a news release this week. “The grant will serve as a roadmap to higher wage, middle-class jobs for current residents.”
“Our hard-fought federal investment in jobs aims to recruit more than 1,000 young adults and low-wage workers in Tampa and the surrounding area, with a goal of preparing them for well-paying jobs in information technology and health care,” said Castor, a Tampa Democrat. “The Tampa Bay area would not have been competitive without so many of our partners like the University of South Florida and a number of local employers and employer coalitions such as the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, Cognizant, and Celestar Holdings Corporation.”
The money will help develop programming, training and education, including courses at the University of South Florida, which will allow participants to earn various credentials, certificates and associate degrees in customized programs.
“The Tampa Bay TechHire program will expand local technology-related job-training programs by focusing on accelerated training for youth and young adults with barriers to accessing employment,” said Ed Peachey, president and CEO of CareerSource Tampa Bay in a statement. “The program will also train incumbent workers for advancement in critical high-growth IT and health care occupations. The partnership with Tampa Innovation Alliance, IBM, BayCare, and other local companies provides the foundation for long-term, sustainable employment.”
Many tech jobs don’t require four-year degrees, but rather focused training in shorter programs. TechHire was launched in 2015 to help get young people into those programs, which equip them to go out and get good-paying jobs in the technology industry.
“This grant is a huge win for the residents of the University Area community and will be the answer to many families struggling with unemployment and underemployment,” said Sarah Combs, executive director and CEO of University Area Community Development Corporation. “The University Area CDC is thrilled to be a part of this collaborative to focus on bringing job training opportunities to provide residents the fastest paths to good-paying jobs.”
More than 150 businesses supported the grant application through their membership in the Tampa Innovation Alliance and the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, many of whom have expressed interest in hiring those who complete the programs.