An Afghan immigrant. A mother of six. An English grad turned techie. A man now able to provide for his family.
They’re all among the graduates and inspirational stories highlighted during LaunchCode’s graduation ceremony that recognized the newest members of Kansas City’s tech community.
I’m so incredibly proud of our LaunchCode LC101 students — they have really bonded through our community-style learning model,” said Anna Welchman, LaunchCode’s company relations manager. “Each of our students will help us grow the Kansas City tech workforce and bring the grit and hustle that KC employers look for.”
A nonprofit based in St. Louis, LaunchCode bolsters the tech workforces in Kansas City and St. Louis by offering free, mentor-led coding courses and then placing the graduates in internships and apprenticeships in the area. The course is a rare opportunity for free, immersive technical training that can cost upward of $10,000 at coding boot camps.
The program aims to address the growing U.S. challenge to fill bout 600,000 open tech jobs, said LaunchCode executive director Jeff Mazur.
That number is expected to reach about 1 million openings by 2020, he added.
“There’s a problem with the way the world has typically gone about trying to fill that gap,” Mazur said. “It’s always been about ‘How do we get people a four-year degree, a computer science degree, to fill these tech jobs. If you look at the numbers, folks, it just doesn’t bear out. About 100,000 new jobs open up every year and about 42,000 or 43,000 people in the U.S. graduate with a four-year degree in computer science or software engineering. We will never close the gap if that’s the case.
“And at the same time, there are literally tens of thousands of people here in Kansas City, across the country and around the world that are truly driven to find a career in tech, that really care about learning, becoming lifelong learners, finding a path to make themselves happy and to grow as people.”
Founded in 2013 by Jim McKelvey, LaunchCode arrived in Kansas City in early 2016. Between 2013 and 2016, the organization has made nearly 900 direct placements of “LaunchCoders” into apprenticeships or permanent positions, according to LaunchCode’s annual report.
Check out photos below from the graduation ceremony.