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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise

TCWV in the News

Concerted effort can boost coding jobs in W.Va.

Column by Anne Barth

Huntington Herald-Dispatch

April 2, 2017

With ever-increasing advances in technology, there is one thing we DO know. Coding – the process of writing computer programs to analyze data, manage digital systems and operate today’s machinery and consumer products – will become more and more important.

In fact, coding has been called the most important job skill of the future. Experts point to the huge number of job openings that require coding skills, the high rate of growth in programming jobs and the fact these jobs pay good incomes.

That is why TechConnect West Virginia is spearheading an integrated statewide skills development and training initiative focused on helping individuals (high school students and adults) get trained and employed in first-level computer coding/programming opportunities. The effort will:

Among the first outcomes of this initiative will be to 1) develop industry-accepted parameters regarding the skills and aptitudes needed to qualify as a baseline coder and 2) promote the range of training options available for interested individuals. These may include classes provided by the state school system, the state’s community and technical colleges, the state’s universities, or free, self-learning coding training courses. Other training options include:

  • West Virginia’s educational system is providing free, on-line computer coding courses that are now available to high school students via the state’s Microsoft Imagine Academy.
  • Non-profit training programs being offered around the state, including Mined Minds in Clendenin and Charleston, the WV HIVE in Beckley, RCBI in Huntington and Richwood Scientific in Richwood, among others.

Another outcome will be to assess and quantify the pool of trained coders in West Virginia, whether these individuals complete their training within the state school system, career tech centers, community colleges, universities, non-profit training efforts or online courses.

Finally, TechConnect will be interacting with employers (private sector and public sector) to understand their tech workforce needs and encourage them to hire these newly trained West Virginians.

By aggregating and aligning all of our efforts, West Virginia will be better equipped to provide new opportunities for those who want to be part of the growing innovation and tech economy. We also will help produce more new workers with today’s high-tech skills and training.

Anne Barth is executive director of TechConnect West Virginia, a non-profit coalition committed to the advancement of the innovation economy in West Virginia.