White House names San Jose, Oakland 'TechHire' cities

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The White House named San Jose and Oakland "TechHire" cities. TechHire is a program that helps unemployed workers and residents with skills that need updating get their foot in the door of companies like Facebook, eBay and Cisco.

This fast-track training program will be expanding soon because of new federal grants.

San Francisco signed onto the program in March and the program is already helping people change lives. San Jose is also one of the cities eligible for the money.

Just four years ago, 26-year-old Ollie King was working at a clothing store. Today, he is an eBay program manager because of a tech training program called Year Up.

It's one of the programs that will be expanded by $100 million in new federal grants.

"So many people are having a hard time to gain access into higher education but are really ready to work but just don't have the skills that they need to be successful in an environment like this, and that's something that you want to do. You want to make sure you set them up for success," King said.

The Bay Area is giving birth to so many start-ups and they're hungry to hire trained coders and engineers.

Declara, an advanced search engine for learning in Palo Alto, is one example.

Its founder and CEO, Ramona Pierson, was at the White House telling President Obama about the need for entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

The company has grown from four to 65 employees in three years.

"When you have a balance and a good diversification of age, gender and every other aspect, then you get a very good mix of people who can come together and build a powerful platform like Declara," Declara Chief Marketing Officer Vamshi Sriperumbudur said.

By ramping up training, what's the risk of overfilling the pipeline with workers?

Head of Community Raul Gonzalez doesn't think that will happen.

"We need people to maintain this technology. We need people to protect this technology. We need people to create this technology. The more we grow, the more we depend on technology, the more dependency we're going to have on highly-skilled work force in order to maintain this growth," Gonzalez said.

San Jose's newest fast-track training program hopes to produce 1,000 new tech workers by the end of next year.

There are now 31 TechHire cities nationally.
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