ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – St. Louis is one of a 21 cities chosen by the White House to help launch a new jobs initiative called TechHire.
"America is where entrepreneurs come to start the greatest startups. Where the most cutting-edge ideas are born and launched,' said President Obama, as he announced the program during a speech on Monday.
And the president says one reason for choosing St. Louis is because it already has the best model going, thanks to a not for profit organization called LaunchCode.
The group places people with computer coding talent but few credentials at companies that have a need for talent, but too few programmers available to meet their needs.
LaunchCode takes people with that knack for computer programming and gets them the training they need to make a career of it by placing them in paid apprenticeships at over 300 St. Louis companies.
Jermell Beane is one of those LaunchCode apprentices who went from a low paying job in graphic design to a good paying computer coding job in St. Louis.
'I think they are the program to duplicate, they aren`t in it for the profit, they are in it to help people and it is what this country needs,' Beane said.
LaunchCode began in the fall of 2013 but has already found more than 150 people jobs.
'Over 90 percent of LaunchCode apprentices are hired in an average of about 90 days so you are looking at about three months to go from maybe unemployment or underemployment with a job averaging a salary of $50,000,' said program director Alex Miller.
Along with apprenticeships, LaunchCode helps educate people through online coursework and coding bootcamps.
Organizations creating training programs as part of the TechHire initiative will be able to compete for $100 million worth of government grants to help people with improve their English, reach out to young people, and pay for child care.
President Obama says there are more than 500,000 technology job openings, with two-thirds of them in non-high tech industries.