The coding bootcamp focuses on training underrepresented groups in tech – as the demand for technological skills grows nationwide.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Code.org, the U.S. is staring at an estimated 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who will be qualified to fill them by the year 2020. The troublesome trend comes as technology develops more quickly than a workforce with the skills to work with it. But it also creates a great opportunity for those who pursue these fields through programs like We Can Code IT. We Can Code IT operates certified coding bootcamps—with a special focus on diversity and inclusion— in Cleveland, Columbus and, soon, Akron.
“There’s a serious shortage of skilled technology professionals, but there’s even more of a shortage when it comes to women and minorities in tech. To give you some numbers, less than 18% of IT teams are comprised of women, African American and Hispanic populations,” said Mel McGee, a coder of 20-plus years and founder and CEO of We Can Code IT. “I was that girl that was the only one in her major with a bunch of men. Diversity leads to innovation, and we believe this is a way forward.”
We Can Code IT offers 14-week certified coding bootcamps focused on accelerated software engineering and web development training for adults using project and problem-based learning. The intensive program has about a 10 percent admission rate, which it determines based on an assessment completed with each application. To encourage underrepresented groups in tech to apply—a core tenet of the program—We Can Code IT offers an automatic $1,000 grant for women, Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans.
By the end of the 14-week program, graduates are full-fledged developers, masters of new coding languages like C# / .NET, Java and more, ready to begin IT careers at companies like Hyland Software, Progressive Insurance Nationwide and CoverMyMeds. In addition to their bootcamps, We Can Code IT offers inclusive, innovative software development classes, customized training for business teams and workshops.
“We’re focused on giving more people the skills they’ll need to compete for jobs in a future which is only getting more technological,” said McGee. “We’re also giving a lot of others the opportunity to completely jumpstart their careers or pivot away from whatever path they were going down before. The comprehensive coding program our students go through can have a huge impact on their lives. ”
We Can Code IT got its start through LaunchHouse and then the Flashstarts 2015 Accelerator, an Ohio Third Frontier partner in Cleveland. We Can Code IT opened its first location alongside Flashstarts inside StartMart in Cleveland’s Terminal Tower. With Flashstarts’ support, they have graduated hundreds of new software developers across their campuses. Recently, they’ve continued to innovate by launching their online training portal, which has opened up doors to employers and students who need tech skills but don’t have time for in-person training. This hybrid “FlexCode™” approach is designed for working professionals to complete coursework flexibly, combining both in-person and remote education.
“We’re lucky to have gotten the support we did, especially in the earliest stages. The tech communities in Cleveland and Columbus are both far ahead of many other cities in the nation, and we’re proud to be contributing,” said McGee. “We’re excited to continue our mission in Ohio with new partnerships and new locations moving forward. It’s an exciting time to be in this space, and it’s an exciting time to be in Ohio, which has shown a commitment to advancement.”