Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced on June 28 that $8 million in workforce funding had been awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, with the focus to train Milwaukee residents for careers in technology fields.

These employment opportunities are critical to the economic stability of urban communities and the economic competitiveness of all industries, particularly for professional business and financial services, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

Employ Milwaukee and UMOS were each awarded a $4 million grant to support information technology training primarily serving young adults between the ages 17-29 with a high school degree or equivalent and barriers to employment. A majority of the training will take place at the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee’s Housing Authority TechForce Training Center in conjunction with Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).

“These are good family-supporting jobs and we want to open the door so that Milwaukee residents can take advantage of these opportunities. These grants will enable Milwaukeeans to receive the training they need to be productive in our regional economy,” Mayor Barrett said. “I am committed to leading the effort to develop our workforce to meet the critical needs of employers today and in the future.”

Employ Milwaukee’s Compete Midwest H-1B TechHire Partnership is a regional collaboration with St. Louis and Cincinnati. It will connect individuals to well-paying jobs, such as Web Developers and Database Administrators, in high growth sectors like IT and healthcare.

“We are thrilled the Department of Labor announced they will fund our TechHire initiative,” said Earl Buford, President and CEO of Employ Milwaukee. “There is a need for workers trained in technical occupations across industries. We are looking forward to working with our partners to put individuals, especially our young people, on a career pathway in tech fields.”

UMOS’ Eastern Wisconsin TechHire Collaborative aims to train and prepare individuals for high-skill, well-paying jobs like software applications development.

“We are excited about this opportunity to assist in meeting the higher skill-level expectations from employers, while meeting the higher skill-level training needed by job seekers,” said Lupe Martinez, President and CEO of UMOS.

The Department of Labor’s TechHire grant awarded to Employ Milwaukee will provide new programming at the TechForce Training Center, which is a technology training partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Housing Authority, MATC, Employ Milwaukee, the Adult Learning Center, Milwaukee Public Schools and St. Francis of Assisi Parish. In March, Milwaukee was designated a White House TechHire Community.

“With the designation of Milwaukee as a White House TechHire Community in March, the grand opening of the Milwaukee TechForce Training Center in May and now the award of the TechHire grant, we have a powerful alignment of federal resources with local partnerships to provide Milwaukee residents with new technology career pathways into the middle class and beyond,” said Tony Pérez, Secretary-Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee.

Over half a million of today’s open jobs are in technology fields like software development and cybersecurity—many of which did not even exist a decade ago. The average salary in a job that requires technology skills is 50 percent more than the average private sector job.

There are an estimated 2,200 technology jobs available in the Milwaukee area.

“Information Technology is one of the fastest growing career fields in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin and in our nation. There is high demand from local employers for Information Technology professionals,” said Dr. Richard Busalacchi, MATC School of Business Interim Dean. “Over the last several years, Milwaukee Area Technical College has added new degree, diploma and certificate programs to meet the needs of the rapidly changing industry and help ensure our students receive the necessary education and training for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We know that an educated workforce is just one of the factors that leads to a vibrant region and thriving economy.”

Vice President Biden and Department of Labor Secretary Perez announced the release of $150 million in Department of Labor grants for 39 partnerships across the country, including Milwaukee. With these funds, awardees will launch innovative training and placement models to develop tech talent as a way to keep and create jobs in local economies.