Vice President Joe Biden announced $100 million in scholarships to those who are underrepresented in the technology workforce and talked about the importance of education for information technology jobs.

The Iron Yard, Code Fellows, and Operation HOPE will offer full-tuition scholarships to women and minorities in the technology field. So far, $45 million in funding has been committed. The scholarships will partner with local government to also provide housing, financial literacy, counseling and transportation as needed.

“We have a workforce that wants to work and the productivity is real,” Biden said. “We’re the most innovative country in the world.”

There are half a million technology jobs available in the United States and the number is expected to double in the next four years, according to Ken Meyer, director of digital strategy for the Office of the Vice President. The Obama administration launched the TechHire initiative in 2015 to give people access to training for technology jobs.

The TechHire initiative trained 58 African-American women,  ages 23-58, in Detroit for 16 weeks to work as programmers. By the time they completed the course, all of the women had been hired. The lowest salary was $54,000 and the highest salary was $102,000.

“There’s a really high payoff in the IT area with really good salaries,” Biden said. “It’s about rebuilding the middle class.”

Biden said that 40 percent of information technology jobs don’t require a college degree and the average salary that these jobs pay is $55,000. The initiative focuses on people who have the intellectual capacity and interest in technology careers but didn’t go to college.

“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want to work given the shot,” Biden said.

Biden said that in his generation, people who worked hard could live a middle-class life with only a high school degree, but now that’s rarely possible.

Biden also said the United States is doing well in that the nation has the most agile venture capitalists, the cheapest energy, and the most productive workforce in the world.

“We have a workforce that wants to work and the productivity is real,” Biden said. “Barack and I are focused on productivity.”

Biden said that the Unites States can improve in terms of infrastructure and education.

“We need to have the most modern infrastructure,” Biden said. “We need to have the most educated workforce in the world.”

Biden said that scholarships and initiatives such as TechHire will help employees get training to create a skilled workforce.

“Any country that out-educates us will out compete us,” Biden said.


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