San Francisco is using millions of dollars in federal grant money to help train and educate local residents to make them attractive hires for the booming technology industry.
As The City celebrates its emergence as a tech hub around industry heavyweights such as Salesforce.com and Twitter, city officials are emphasizing the need to make sure some of the benefits accrue for San Franciscans who don’t yet possess specialized technology skills.
“A significant portion of San Francisco’s worker population lacks the skills and educational attainment to access these opportunities,” a city grant application stated. Back in the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, San Francisco’s demand for IT workers was met through “in-migration,” the application noted.
Ensuring that local residents are employable in the tech industry is the focus of a $3 million federal grant awarded in July to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, which applied for funding.
The grant funds the so-called TechSF-Workforce Innovation Partnership with about $1 million a fiscal year, concluding in June 2015. The grant spending was approved Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.
The department’s grant application highlights the insular nature of tech hiring. Of the 420 employers who used San Francisco’s One Stop System to fill job openings, just eight were tech employers, which accounted for just eight of the 679 hires during a six-month period, according to the application.
Tech companies are recruiting “from a small pool of skilled workers, creating a virtual talent war,” the application said.
Meanwhile, the working poor “express frustration that tech opportunities seem out of reach.”
“As a result,” the application said, “San Francisco has not been able to fully capitalize on the economic recovery potential of the booming tech sector.”
The City is providing the grant money to a number of entities to accomplish these goals. During the three-year program, City College of San Francisco will receive $400,000 and San Francisco State University will receive $300,000 to tailor more instruction to the needs of would-be tech workers. The recently created Mayor’s Office of Innovation will receive $400,000 to use technology to improve job training and the delivery of city services, and the Bay Area Video Coalition, a group providing new media training, will receive $350,000.
The grant also will provide $50,000 to Txt2Wrk, a service alerting job seekers of ?openings via text messages.
The effort is expected to come under more scrutiny in an upcoming hearing requested by Supervisor Jane Kim.
“It is something incredibly important to our office, as we encourage and support a lot of the tech companies in our district, that we also create pathways to real jobs for members of our ?community,” Kim said.