WV Coding & Cyber Summit A Big Success
More than 150 Leaders in education, private industry and the public sector came together on Oct. 12 at BridgeValley Community & Technical College’s Advanced Technology Center for TechConnect’s West Virginia Coding & Cyber Summit. The event, which was co-hosted by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, aimed to set a dynamic course by which West Virginia can close the technology skills gap and land more workers in digital jobs.
Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnectWV, said “One of the primary takeaways from the event is that many coding and cyber jobs don’t require a four-year degree, or even a two-year degree. Many students can get certifications needed to enter these jobs through short-term training, including multi-month boot camps.
“We were thrilled with the level of participation from our speakers, sponsors and participants. This is an exciting opportunity for the state, and people are rising to the occasion, she added.
- learned about exciting new steps that are being taken in West Virginia to train a new high-tech workforce;
- heard about successful training programs and potential employment opportunities in the areas of computer coding and cybersecurity;
- explored how West Virginians can benefit from the new virtual tech economy and workplace; and
- identified ways to mobilize West Virginia communities to benefit from “hereshoring” job and economic development opportunities.
IBM Vice President for Human Resources Obed Louissaint, one of the event’s featured presenters, discussed the company’s “New Collar” jobs initiative, which aims to find people with the right skills at the right time. Louissaint told the gathering this will include both people with college degrees who are “re-skilled” and those without a degree who acquire the necessary skills.
Bernard McKay, Chief Policy Officer and Senior VP at Intuit, cited Ireland’s transformation from an agrarian society just 50 years ago to a thriving tech hub now as an example for West Virginia to consider. He noted that workforce development, STEAM education, and economic development all work hand-in-hand to produce success.
United States Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, co-hosted the event.
“As West Virginia continues working to grow and diversify our economy, the tech industry provides so many opportunities for our students, workers, and job creators. The West Virginia Coding & Cyber Summit will help highlight those opportunities and show West Virginians how to pursue them. I’m excited to be part of this important event that will help West Virginians gain critical skills to succeed in the workforce and grow the tech economy in our state,” said Senator Capito.
Senator Manchin noted that “It’s no secret that West Virginians are hard-working. But as our economy evolves, our workforce is also proving that we’re innovative and we have the technical skills for the jobs of the future. With dedicated groups like TechConnect and new opportunities like those being offered by Mined Minds, which is retraining coal miners for software coding jobs, West Virginia isn’t just looking around the corner – we’re forging ahead. I applaud everyone committed to making this event possible, and to making West Virginia even stronger.”
Attendees learned that software coding and cybersecurity programs are being offered by a number of the state’s two- and four-year institutions, and three “coding” camps have sprung up in the last year. Mined Minds, Richwood Scientific and CentralApp now offer boot camp trainings in computer coding/programming in several locations around the state.
Other boot camps will be developed by the state’s adult education program. These programs give people an opportunity to learn tech skills that will land them in “new collar” occupations now and in years to come.
Eight groups that teach coding skills to youth in West Virginia exhibited during the Summit, including BridgeValley Community & Technical College; the Kanawha Valley Coding Club; Girls Who Code; the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing; Pocahontas County Schools; the WV Statewide Afterschool Network; Learning Options, Inc.; and Upshur County Schools.