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Colorado State and Fullstack Academy Offer Coding Boot Camp

Colorado State University and Fullstack Academy are partnering with universities across the country to offer a 26-week immersive training course in cybersecurity and coding, starting in July and running through January.

(TNS) — The Denver area is consistently listed among the nation's high-tech hot spots. A New York-based coding school says there are more than 30,000 unfilled computer jobs in the area. The pandemic has left people looking for new jobs or pondering new careers.

Enter a joint program by Colorado State University and Fullstack Academy coding boot camp, which has partnered with universities across the country to offer immersive training for people who want to join the high-tech industry. The 26-week cybersecurity and coding boot camps start in July and runs to January.

When Fullstack Academy looked at Colorado, it saw an opportunity to play a role, said Mogan Subramaniam, the organization's president.

"In the Denver area, the tech scene has been growing rapidly for many years. But at the same time, the number of unfilled jobs has been increasing," Subramaniam said.

The website CyberSeek shows there are 17,271 openings for cybersecurity jobs in Colorado. There are nearly 13,000 available coding jobs, according to Indeed.

"That's not going to go down. More companies are coming in. The big tech companies are increasing their presence," Subramaniam said.

The Denver area and northern Colorado are home to nearly 6,960 information technology and software companies, including major operations for IBM Corp., IHS Markit, Oracle, Zillow and Google, a study by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. found.

The industry directly employs 72,680 in the region. Employment rose by close to 9 percent in 2020, more than double the national average, according to the study. The average annual wage was $127,210 and the industry contributed $32.1 billion, or 15.1 percent, to the region's economy.

Claire Pettner, director of operations and partnerships for CSU's Extended Campus, said Fullstack Academy looks for markets where cybersecurity and software professional jobs are growing.

"We were looking at ways to increase Colorado workforce opportunities," Pettner said. "It's kind of a great match. Fullstack works with universities nationwide in those kinds of areas and because Denver is such a growing area, we kind of mutually thought this would be a good opportunity."

Fullstack Academy has increasingly seen people in a range of careers sign up for the courses, Subramaniam said.

"In New York, we have a program partnering with the city that specifically works with underserved communities," said Subramaniam. "We see drivers, delivery folks, service industry folks and in the hospitality industry. We have definitely seen a push on that front, people who have been under a lot of pressure to reskill themselves."

And all kinds of companies are hiring software professionals to beef up their cybersecurity, he added.

Pettner and Subramaniam acknowledged that women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in high-tech jobs.

"The sad truth is that the diversity of the tech industry does not reflect the diversity of the population of the country and over the years it has become more apparent," Subramaniam said. "Now, the leaders of the tech industry are trying to change the ways in which they recruit."

And education institutions are trying to do more, he added. Fullstack Academy's Grace Hopper program for women defers tuition until graduates find a job.

An analysis released by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. shows that 79.1 percent of the jobs in cybersecurity in the Denver area and northern Colorado are held by men and 20.9 percent by women. In the region, 77 percent of the cybersecurity employees are white; 10.2 percent are Hispanic or Latino; 4.8 percent are Black; 4.7 percent are of Asian background; and 0.5 percent are Native American or Alaskan native.

Black women account for only 3 percent of the people hired in the tech industry, said Portia Kibble Smith, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Karat, which recruits and conducts interviews for companies hiring for high-tech jobs.

"It's been that way for a number of years. This isn't anything new," said Smith, who is Black and has worked for Xerox, IBM and other companies.

A lot of times recruiting and hiring hinge on who knows who, Smith said. The tech industry's rapid growth creates great opportunities, but she said they're not necessarily open to everyone

In March, Karat started a program called "Brilliant Black Minds" by expanding a pilot project at Howard University that worked with students on interview skills and provided feedback and coaching. Smith said those who want to increase diversity in tech jobs need to make an effort to reach out to underrepresented communities.

"We need women at the table, we need minorities at the table," Smith said. "An all-white, male group is not going to have the collective intelligence that a more diverse group has. It won't have the same experiences."

The coding camp starts July 6. The application deadline is June 29. The cybersecurity program starts July 12 and the application deadline is July 5. Each boot camp meets two evenings during the week and on Saturday for live, online classes.

Later boot camps might be a hybrid of online and in-person sessions, Pettner said. Instructors want to cap the classes at 20 to 30 students.

The boot camps cost $11,490. Scholarships are available for members of the military, veterans, CSU alumni and current students and employees. Financing is also available.

"You do not need to have any experience in tech or in coding or cybersecurity," Subramaniam said. "You submit an online application and then you'll be invited to take a non-technical assessment."

The assessment looks at things like how a person uses logic and solves problems. "During the entire process, we have advisers help you understand whether the program is a good fit for you," Subramaniam said.

Fullstack Academy also offers career counseling, reviews students' resumes and Linkedin profiles, Pettner said. People who have expressed interest in the CSU boot camps come from a variety of backgrounds, including the hospitality and restaurant industries and education.

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