As with many other smaller communities throughout the nation, the Tri-State area may be getting a late start in the software development industry, but it is making progress.

The latest indication of that came last week with the official launch of New Force, a new six-month intensive technology training program. New Force is a partnership of Mount west Community and Technical College and Generation West Virginia with support from the West Virginia Technical College System and Jobcase. The goal is to produce highly trained employees for companies in the Mountain State.

The program is based off the curriculum of the successful Nashville Software School, which has seen 80 percent of its 700 graduates since 2012 find work in tech fields within six months, said founder and President John Wark.

New Force students will graduate with in-demand software development skills and direct connections to jobs. Graduates will possess knowledge of software development languages including HTML, CSS and JavaScript, as well as Microsoft’s C#/.NET software stack.

The program finishes with a job interview day where the program’s employer partners— Advantage Technology, Core10, Mountain Leverage, N3, Spark soft and Strictly Business Computer Systems—interview graduates for open positions.

The idea of high-intensity computer coding camps has had its ups and downs in recent years. Software companies have talked about a shortage of people who can write code for specific industries. In response, high-intensity computer camps have sprung up. Some have been for-profit, while some have been nonprofit. Some have delivered on their promises; some have not.

Huntington-area educators appear to have partnered with a winner in the Nashville Software School. That program took people from a variety of career fields and helped them find work in coding. Several tech companies have their headquarters in Nashville, and people who run those companies, along with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, contributed part of the startup funding.

Talks to bring the Nashville program to Huntington had been going on for several months. In June, MCTC President Keith Cotroneo told the school’s Board of Governors that he had been asked by Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, to look into a cooperative program between MCTC and the Nashville Software School that could be replicated throughout West Virginia.

At that meeting, Cotroneo also told the board that Core10 reached out to him in hopes of creating a fast-track coding program.

“They know Mountwest is strong in its IT program and because they are so impressed with coding students coming out of Mount west, they would like to create a program to produce even more qualified coders in Huntington,” Cotroneo said in June.

Core10 is a Nashville-based company with an office in downtown Huntington. It came here to take advantage of an available pool of people who could write software for the financial services industry.

Lee Farabaugh, a co-founder of Core10, said her organization has had great success hiring graduates from the Nashville school at its headquarters in Tennessee.

“We have aggressive goals for the success of our company. We need a larger pipeline of talent to make those goals happen, and essentially that’s how this program was born,” Farabaugh said.

There’s no doubt that Huntington and the Tri-State need a bigger presence in the software industry. We will always need energy, and we will always need people who can make and bend metal. Those industries also need programmers and experts in artificial intelligence applications. This isn’t the first software development initiative we’ve seen in Huntington, and the region can expect it won’t be the last. We have our foot in the door. Now we have a chance to open it wider.

Source: The Associated Press

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