White House rolls out more tech commitments before Obama speech

The White House rolled out another set of tech commitments on Wednesday as President Obama prepares to speak at the popular South by Southwest Interactive conference.

The administration announced Wednesday morning that it was expanding the TechHire initiative, which is aimed at increasing the workforce’s command of the kind of skills crucial to tech jobs.

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Fifty communities are now involved in offering programs to better prepare workers for a job market that requires skills linked to technology. The administration says these municipalities, including Austin, where South by Southwest takes place, will work to train workers and build a pipeline for them to access employment.

The administration is also touting a Department of Homeland Security rule that would allow some international students studying in science, technology, engineering and math fields to stay in the country for a longer period of time after they graduate under certain circumstances.

The expansion of the TechHire program comes before the president speaks at the conference on Friday. South by Southwest brings startups and more established companies to Austin for a series of panels, keynotes and parties.

Obama said this weekend he is “going to ask everyone for ideas and technologies that can help update our government and our democracy to be as modern and dynamic as America itself.”

Wednesday’s announcement also comes after the Monday launch of a new project to open up data for use in projects that could address problems at the local level.