Over the last several months, new resources that can offer IT training to the next generation of tech talent entered Baltimore. They’re focused on closing the gap between open tech jobs and the number of people available to fill them.
It’s often talked about as an abstract policy concept, but the organizations are offering a chance for the tech community to get directly involved.
In the case of NPower, a Brooklyn-based organization that opened a space in the Hollins Market area in May, political leaders like Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake provided support, as well as local financial backers like the Abell Foundation, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and the France Merrick Foundation.
— NPower Baltimore (@npowerbaltimore) August 25, 2016
But amid the ribbon cutting and 3D printer demonstration to open the space on Wednesday, there was also a challenge.
“I want to ask Baltimore and the business and tech community to take a similar leap of faith, to join the vision of our elected officials and of our funders and to do something about commitment to the young people we are serving,” NPower CEO Bertina Ceccarelli told a group gathered to mark the opening of the location.
She called on businesses to hire students as interns, or technologists to serve as lecturers or mentors. The students could also make site visits, she said.
NPower is currently instructing its first class of 25 students, all between 18 and 25 years old. They’re students like Imani Frederick, who told the assembled guests that he was there for the “opportunity to advance in the technology fields, but to also better my life and to better everybody else’s life.”
The students are receiving 15 weeks of tech training in preparation for the CompTIA A+ exam. NPower hopes to have classes of 50 or 100 students in the future.
They’re not the only organization working to prime the pipeline. Just off Northern Parkway, a program that launched in the UK chose Baltimore as its first U.S. location.
In October, the TranZed Alliance is looking to begin connecting students (of all ages) with apprenticeships, and a big focus is on IT and digital marketing. The offering is a combination of on-the-job training and coursework, said Apprenticeship Advisor Alex Gettings.
We first met Gettings at Technical.ly’s Super Meetup, where he was looking to meet technologists. Like NPower, the organization has room for both small and large companies to get involved, as well as the tech orgs in town that already provide youth with early access to tech. The number of groups is part of the reason TranZed began its first stateside program in Baltimore.
“Baltimore for IT is an absolutely amazing city,” Gettings said.