It’s time to face the fact, college may not work for everyone. It’s expensive. Some of us work 2-3 low- to moderate-wage jobs to survive and thus have no time to spare for the commitment college requires. Or maybe we’re just not cut out for the culture and pressure that college demands. Whatever the reason some of us do not pursue college, the skills gap and education depravity hold us back from sustainable, meaningful, and decent-paying employment in increasingly high-demand career fields, especially for example, the tech industry.
Thanks to a new partnership between Kansas City Public Library's Tech Access team and LaunchCode, there is an alternative. Imagine going from no computer coding experience to landing a tech job in less than a year! LaunchCode has been working in Kansas City communities since 2016 and now, LaunchCode’s Discovery Learning Program is offering a new way to learn.
LaunchCode, a national nonprofit, was founded in St. Louis in 2013 to address the talent gap that many tech companies encounter when seeking to fill open tech positions. There are driven individuals who can do the job, but can’t get the job. LaunchCode works to train these individuals then connect them with the companies in need of tech talent. This gap is not shrinking, but rather continues to grow. However, LaunchCode is making lack of experience or access to training for the workforce less of a barrier. The organization has built an impressive pathway for beginners to train for and secure jobs in the rapidly growing tech field.
The Library's Plaza Branch is now the go-to site in Kansas City for LaunchCode’s online Discovery Learning Program. Novices are introduced to the fundamentals of computer coding to build a foundation of skills while gauging their own interest and suitability for the career path. It is a self-paced online course that takes participants an average of 20 to 40 hours to complete. Patrons can drop in, any Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Plaza Branch, for help getting started and progressing through the LaunchCode Discovery Program. Certified mentors are on-site and available to help with specific questions regarding the coursework. These mentors, identifiable via a rocket button on their lanyards, are Tech Coach Volunteers who have received specialized training for this new role.
Successful completion of the LaunchCode Discovery Program gets learners application priority consideration for enrollment in LaunchCode's immersive 20-week, part-time computer programming course, LC101. This next level training, offered a few times a year, takes place in-person at Rockhurst University. The next session is set to begin summer of 2019. While these classes are still free, they do require an application and demonstrated commitment to be admitted. LC101 meets for three hours, two evenings a week, plus requires a minimum of 20 hours of coursework outside of class. The course is supported from mentors including local developers.
Successful completion of LC101 can potentially lead participants to job placement and paid apprenticeships with various local employers. At any given time in Kansas City, approximately 3,000 tech jobs are unfilled. The Kansas City Public Library is so pleased to be working with LaunchCode to make these jobs accessible to everyone in KC. No matter your educational background, zip code, computer programming experience—or lack thereof—if you have the drive and discipline, you have options. One of those jobs could be waiting for you.
by Wendy Pearson, Kansas City Public Library Education and Career Advancement Coordinator