White House names Bellevue a 'TechHire' community to help people find jobs

KING 5's Michelle Li reports.

BELLEVUE, Wash. - A new White House designation names Bellevue a TechHire community with the goal to help overlooked and underrepresented people start technology careers.

As a TechHire community, the city of Bellevue will aim to connect local employers like Expedia and Microsoft to schools like Bellevue College and Coding Dojo. Coding Dojo teaches people how to code and even has a 14-week boot camp.

The White House designation makes it easier for students to receive grants and scholarships to learn how to code. The idea is to help low-wage earners find higher paying jobs and have a pipeline into the technology sector.

A majority of Coding Dojo's students come from liberal arts backgrounds.

"I am a first-generation immigrant coming to this country when I was 13 years old, so I face a lot of those challenges myself," says Richard Wang, CEO of Coding Dojo. "We have a lot of smart, young people right now that are underemployed working in the service sector or unemployed. There's not really a pipeline to get to the middle class."

Wang says people who enroll in Coding Dojo are making about $35,000 on average. When they leave, they can usually find jobs that pay an average of $75,000. Wang says that in five years, estimates say that one million tech jobs will go unfilled because of an uneducated workforce. 

"We are facing the fourth industrial revolution," says Wang. "This industrial revolution is about data science, ARVR, biotech, software IT, all different kinds of technologies but our workforce isn't being trained for that. So we're going to have a huge gap."

Bellevue is now one of nearly 100 TechHire communities across the country, including Seattle.

Copyright 2016 KING


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