Kentucky high school students will learn Swift and Java in a new immersive programming course that can lead to a paid IT apprenticeship. The program is operated by local tech services company Interapt, the company announced in an event at its training facility in Louisville, KY last week.
Interapt also created Kentucky's first IT registered apprenticeship program for adults, in which participants are paid a base salary to participate in a four-month training program, followed by eight months of career track-specific IT apprenticeship work and on-the-job training.
Interapt joined with the nonprofit Transform Education Kentucky to create an off-site, immersive program during which high school students go for 4-hours each school day to study two modules of Interapt Skills curriculum to learn both Java (Android) and Swift (iOS). Students that complete the semester program successfully receive 9 credit hours for courses at any school within the Kentucky Community & Technical College System.
Meanwhile, Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) is a pre-apprenticeship program taught in 16 Kentucky schools that already offer courses in Digital/Computer Literacy, Intro to Computer Programming/Computer Science, Computational Thinking, and AP Computer Science Principles. To complete the TRACK Program, Interapt is developing a curriculum for the final course, Project-Based Programming, and will train teachers how to teach it. Students who complete the program and are accepted into Interapt's Registered Apprenticeship program will receive funding to help pay for their expenses.
The program with Transform Education Kentucky will run as a two year pilot, with the goal of creating a sustainable system for it to continue, said Mary Taylor of the Kentucky Department of Education. Students who successfully complete this program are given an interview to participate in an adult apprenticeship afterward, she added.
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Students who complete the program earn class credit toward graduation, as well as nine credit hours from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
The area is in need of such skills training: One in five Kentuckians does not graduate from high school, while four in five do not earn a bachelor's degree. Meanwhile, the Louisville Metro Government estimates that more than 10,000 high-tech jobs will open in the region by 2020. Entry-level careers currently available in the state include web developers, iOS and Android developers, IT teaching assistants, UX/UI designers, and quality assurance engineers.
It's especially important for the program to attract women and minorities, to make the tech industry more inclusive, said Ankur Gopal, CEO and founder of Interapt.
A program like this requires support from local businesses: CIOs and companies must be willing to hire apprenticeship participants after their six months of training, Gopal said. "It takes an entire community to say, 'We're willing to take this as a pathway,'" he added. Several local businesses including El Toro, Humana, and Texas Roadhouse have agreed to consider Interapt Skills graduates who may not meet traditional minimum job requirements such as a four year degree or applicable open job candidates positions.
Interapt previously ran a 33-week coding academy in eastern Kentucky, teaching participants to build and support mobile applications running on iOS and Android devices and aiming to help revitalize a region hit hard by the downturn in the coal industry.
The program placed 35 people from the region in technology jobs, in which their average salaries rose from $17,000 per year to $40,000 per year. Some participants also went on to continue their education at 2-year and 4-year colleges.
"We believe that apprenticeships will change the trajectory of earning in the commonwealth for a generation, if not two," said Derrick Ramsey, secretary of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.
The program's success led to its renewal for a second year in 2017.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.