Colleges and universities are turning out a fraction of the individuals with the skill sets needed to fill an exponentially growing number of technology-related positions. As an alternative, coding bootcamps such as Tech Elevator are popping up in cities like Cleveland, and now, Columbus.
“[In Columbus] supply is falling way short of demand,” says Tech Elevator Founder & CEO Anthony Hughes. “In 2015, a year where according to Burning Glass 7,500 software developer jobs, and over 13,000 software-related jobs were advertised in Franklin County, Ohio State University conferred just 220 Computer Science degrees. Greater Columbus is in real need of more tech talent and we are excited to join the community and be part of the solution.”
Founded in Cleveland, the city was experiencing the same supply-demand problem Columbus sees.
“I hadn’t realized this was a problem that was universal,” Hughes says.
The unemployed didn’t have the skill sets to fill some 8,000 plus IT positions advertised in Cuyahoga County. Through his work in the economic development space, Hughes was also seeing situations where it wasn’t that an entrepreneur didn’t have a good idea, “They just didn’t have the technical literacy to go off and build these applications,” he says. “There’s so much opportunity if you have the skills.”
Columbus provided a logical step for Tech Elevator’s expansion. In addition to its close proximity, Central Ohio sees a strong economy that’s in demand of IT skills – skills that are applicable at startups, tech companies and non-traditional IT businesses.
“Columbus has been incredibly welcoming,” Hughes says.
Tech Elevator aims to integrate with the IT community and is finding support from institutions like Rev1 Ventures, which will house the bootcamp until they find a more permanent location.
The 14-week Tech Elevator program is a full-time commitment, clocking in at 50-60 hours a week. While applicants don’t need any previous professional experience in the development field, Hughes says they do like to see a track record of interest and a passion for technology.
“We want people who aren’t just coming to us because they hear how great the pay is for software development,” he says. “We want to see that passion.”
Only about 10 percent of Cleveland’s applicants had some traditional IT experience, the rest ran the gamut from recent high school grads to PhDs, with a sweet spot of 25-35-year-olds frustrated with their careers.
The bootcamp offers a different type of education, focusing on practical versus theoretical methods of learning, accomplished by instructors with real-world experience.
“This is a program that’s taught by top-tier practitioners, people with at least a decade of experience,” Hughes says.
Teaching goes beyond the technical side. While the hard skills get a student a job, “The soft skills are the skills that are going to make a difference in your career overall,” Hughes says.
To address the soft skills, Tech Elevators offers a parallel curriculum called the Pathway Program.
“It’s a mentor-driven model,” Hughes says.
Mentors assist with skills like resume building and interviewing. That program extends into helping its students find positions.
In Cleveland, Tech Elevator has built a hiring network of over 80 companies and is working to do the same in Columbus. Some Cleveland graduates have already found positions with Columbus-based companies like Nationwide and CoverMyMeds.
Tech Elevator coordinates a match-making event with its partners to fill positions like software developer, web developer, application developer, software engineer, programmer, business analyst and more.
“About 85 percent of our students have job offers within two weeks of graduation,” Hughes says.
Tech Elevator is currently accepting applications for its inaugural Columbus class to begin September. Applications should be submitted by early August.
For more information, visit techelevator.com.