Heinrich, Gardner Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation To Address Workforce Shortage In Tech Industry

CHANCE in Tech Act will help provide New Mexico workers from all backgrounds with the skills and training they need to fill good-paying tech jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 13, 2019) – Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) reintroduced the Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in Tech) Act to provide workers from all backgrounds with the skills and training they need to fill good-paying tech jobs.

The American economy is dependent on the technology industry to create jobs and expand economic growth. In New Mexico, the average tech industry wage is $87,400 a year, which is almost double the average state wage. Preparation for technology jobs doesn’t necessarily follow the traditional path of a four-year degree. Instead, pathways to these high-paying jobs can begin in high school and continue through training programs and apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships allow technology companies to directly train and hire the workers they need while ensuring that participants have the specific skills employers are looking for upon completion. Alternative education models that include industry-led work based learning will help fill the thousands of job openings currently available in technology fields and spur further economic growth.

“As the technology sector continues to grow in New Mexico and across the country, we need to ensure that our students have the skills they need to compete for these high-paying jobs,” said Heinrich. “By encouraging apprenticeship programs for the tech sector, we can continue to strengthen the STEM pipeline and help New Mexico develop its vibrant technology economy. This bill will connect students, training programs, and community colleges in New Mexico to the growing tech sector where jobs are opening up every day, and create a more prosperous future for our state.”

“As the technology sector begins to play an even larger role in our economy, it’s important our workforce has the necessary skills and training to perform these jobs,” said Gardner. “The technology industry currently faces a workforce shortage and Congress must work together to address this problem. This bipartisan legislation is an innovative solution to address the workforce shortage and will result in more Coloradans and Americans across the country receiving the proper training to enter the technology industry. The next 100 years will be defined by our ability to compete in the technology sector and the CHANCE in Tech Act will help the United States remain the global leader in technological developments.”

The CHANCE in Tech Act would create public-private partnerships to serve as intermediaries between employers participating in registered apprenticeship programs, industry and training partners, and government entities. Each intermediary would assess and train potential apprentices, lessening the regulatory burden on participating employers by tracking success indicators and managing other reporting requirements. The proposal would also establish a program to recognize those high schools and community colleges providing exemplary information technology training and counseling. Collectively, this legislation will help to better align workforce training with local and regional demands.

The bill was designed in partnership with the New Mexico Technology Council, which is an association of about 150 businesses in New Mexico’s technology business sector. Inspiration for the apprenticeship program came from the New Mexico Information Technology Apprenticeship Program (NMITAP). A branch of CNM Ingenuity, Inc., NMITAP is developing apprenticeships in high-quality, high-growth careers in information and health technology.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to build more momentum for technology apprenticeships in New Mexico,” said Katharine Winograd, President of Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). “With our successful New Mexico Information Technology Apprenticeship Program already in place, we are in position to help significantly more apprentices gain the IT skills they need to fill high-demand jobs for our region’s employers.”

“New Mexico companies struggle to find the skilled IT talent they need, even with New Mexico’s comparatively high unemployment rate. Programs such as TechHire New Mexico (a USDOL grant), CNM Ingenuity’s Deep Dive Coding Boot Camps, and private partnerships/apprenticeships, are breaking down the barriers to this industry sector employment opportunity, while growing and developing our own local talent,” said Deborah Breitfeld, CEcD, Executive Director of the New Mexico Technology Council. “We are excited to support the CHANCE in Tech Act, which would assist in the expansion of the IT Apprenticeship programs, a employer outreach effort to cultivate and grow their workforce to meet their individual needs, particularly in the software development arena.”

Heinrich and Gardner originally introduced the CHANCE in Tech Act in the last Congress. U.S. Representatives Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) have introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A copy of the bill is available here.