SF joining national effort to train tech workers, lead by Obama

Lyanne Melendez Image
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
SF joining national effort to train tech workers
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San Francisco is among 21 cities and about 300 employers who have made commitments to train workers for high-tech jobs, with money available from a $100 million federal grant.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is among 21 cities and about 300 employers who have made commitments to train workers for tech jobs.

The Obama administration will provide $100 million in grants for the initiative, which is meant to train and higher low-skilled workers in software development, network administration, cyber security and other areas of technology. It connects the city with training institutions and then employers in high tech.

The money is coming from what companies pay the government to bring in foreign workers through the H1-B visa.

Korabella Pita started training for a career in technology. For the next six months, she and her classmates will undergo extensive training at Year Up, a nonprofit dedicated to helping 18-24 year-olds land a tech job.

"Somebody already told me I should be in product management because I have good public speaking skills and they're starting to see skills I didn't know I had in myself," said Pita.

Their training is free thanks to corporate support and donations. They also get a stipend. And that's just the beginning.

"Then after their first six months, they earn an internship with a company like Microsoft, LinkedIn, Salesforce or Facebook and then when they finish their internship, they are employable by one of those corporate partners or by someone else in the market place," explained Year Up's Executive Director Jay Banfield.

Zendesk on Market Street in San Francisco is among those tech companies involved in the program hiring newly trained people.

Tiffany Apczynski of Zendesk was with President Obama on Monday when he introduced the initiative.

"These kinds of partnerships are creating those pathways that get everyone into tech. You don't have to have a 4-year engineering degree, you don't have to have a Master's degree to get a job with growth potential," said Apczynski.

San Francisco started training people in 2012. It's called the Tech SF Initiative.

"Since 2012, we've trained and connected more than 500 residents to jobs in technology and these are residents who may not have had a 4-year degree and with challenging backgrounds," said Todd Rufo with San Francisco's Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The president's plan would help meet the demand for high-tech workers in the U.S. It would also give low wage workers a chance to increase their pay.

This year, San Francisco hopes to train more than 200 people. All they need to do is contact the city's office of economic and workforce development.