Contrary to popular belief, tech jobs aren’t just for stereotypical “geeks” who enjoy crunching code.
Pointworks Academy recently kicked off an accelerated learning program for user experience (UX) and digital management careers in Kansas City, Mo. It will offer practical training for individuals who are seeking careers in technology and help corporations looking to train their teams.
“I talk to people all the time that say ‘I’d love to get into technology, but I’m not a developer. I don’t want to write code.’ People don’t see the career opportunities,” says Yana Beranek co-founder at Pointworks Academy. “That’s part of what we are trying to do; educating the region and letting people in the Kansas City area know that these jobs are available and that technology might be a great fit for someone who’s more creative, likes to do research, or someone who’s interested in how people work.”
“Great software depends on great design and we just don’t have a lot of digital product designers in Kansas City yet.” – Yana Beranek
Kansas City might not be home to Facebook or Google, but there are plenty of technology jobs that people might not think of at first. An array of businesses in financial services, insurance, healthcare and engineering are actively looking for people to fill UX roles.
Ryan Weber, president of the Kansas City Tech Council, said that the number of tech job openings in the metro area have steadily increased over the years. The number of tech job openings has increased 6 percent since 2015, from 5,200 to 5,500, he said. That the average wage for a tech occupation in Kansas City is $87,400 per year, he added.
Weber said that while tech firms in Kansas City are now looking for more experienced talent, the entire metro must take steps to cultivate more techies in general.
“Today, employers aren’t feeling the skills gap at the entry-level, but they are at a mid- and senior-level,” he said. “However, if Kansas City is going to succeed as a long-term tech hub, we have to produce our own talent and employers know this. Eventually, there may not be any candidates and stealing talent from other cities is not a strategy.”
Beranek and her partner, Chrys Sullivan, hope that Pointsworks will bridge the UX skills gap. Their goals are to increase awareness of UX, find people with aptitude and turn that into skills that employers in the Kansas City area need.
“Students are coming out of universities with very relevant degrees like industrial engineering, visual and graphic design, so we are trying to tap into that talent so that this entire sector here in Kansas City can grow,” Yana said. “Great software depends on great design and we just don’t have a lot of digital product designers in Kansas City yet.”
The pair have been working together since the early 2000’s when they met as coworkers at H&R Block. Chrys founded the UX research and design firm Useagility in 2008, with Yana coming in as her first employee in 2010. Useagility is a design firm that focuses on user research and strategy. Yana says that their experience in the industry will help Pointworks by supplying them with the connections they need to succeed.
Pointworks offers certification courses as well as personalized on-site training for corporations. Prices range from $25 for an hour and a half workshop, to $1,800 for a five-day workshop.
Pointworks — located at 4149 Pennsylvania Ave. — offers five-day boot camps in which students will learn core UX principles, the basics of prototyping and usability testing in an interactive classroom setting. There is also a ten-week boot camp in the works. Upcoming boot camp dates are Sept. 26 – 30 and Oct.31 – Nov. 4.