IT Vendors Lobby Congress For More Tech-Training Dollars - InformationWeek

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IT Vendors Lobby Congress For More Tech-Training Dollars

Vendor reps want more funding from the Workforce Investment Act to be used to train IT workers and people who use technology.

A group of IT vendor representatives on Thursday lobbied a Senate subcommittee that manages some $11 billion in workforce training funding to direct a greater portion of that money to developing technology skills. The Workforce Investment Act, which distributes funds to workforce training centers managed by each state, is pending reauthorization by Congress.

Tech-industry reps say most of the funding has gone to training for Old Economy jobs such as manufacturing. They would like to see more funding go to training--not just for IT workers, but for people who use technology, such as clerical or call-center workers. "We needed to get in front of legislators and convince them that the IT industry needs to be more of a recipient of those funds," says Martin Bean, chief operating officer at IT training company New Horizons and chairman of the CompTIA trade association's Technology Workforce Coalition. "Every knowledge worker in America is becoming more and more dependent on technology to do their jobs."

The coalition is concerned that legislators will put a cap on funding for training IT workers because of the surge in unemployment for those workers, Bean says. If legislators limit funding because they think there's a surplus of skilled IT workers in the United States, there won't be enough skilled IT workers when the economy improves, he argues. That, in turn, could increase the reliance on offshore IT workers or those who come to the United States on the H-1B visa program. A similar scenario could happen if not enough knowledge workers are getting technology training, he says. Adds Bean: "We'd like to think that these funds can be used to educate Americans for these jobs rather than relying on imported skilled labor from other parts of the world, or more tragically, losing jobs to overseas workers."

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