PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The pandemic has left thousands unemployed or under-employed as the stimulus bill remains stalled.
But in Newport News, some residents are taking advantage of a new free program that prepares workers for the pandemic of now and the modern workforce of the future.
One binary digit at a time, more than two dozen Newport News residents are learning how to speak the coding language that controls Facebook, online banking, traffic lights, and just about everything we need that involves computers.
Instructors from Tech Talent South are virtually training students to prepare for the high-tech world of software engineering, business analysis, application development, and more.
Sound difficult? A spokesperson for Tech Talent South said there’s a good chance many people have already been exposed to coding.
“CSS sounds very daunting but anyone who [used] Myspace, that’s how you built your profile on Myspace. Anyone who is using Myspace, you coded in HTML CSS,” said Sean Petersen, the director of marketing, analytics, and operations for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based training organization.
Funds from the pandemic-era CARES Act are being used to cover the cost of tuition for the program that is designed to address the needs of those who are unemployed or underemployed.
“From this program, we are working with individuals who may not have a background in technology. You don’t need a background in tech to succeed in the tech world. All you need is the curiosity, the drive, and determination to make yourself successful,” said Petersen.
Students who complete the program could end up in the high tech world that allow them to work from home: something people can’t do if they work in a shipyard, or a shoe shop.
“There is this ability to be flexible in where you are and we are seeing this with so many employees who are changing the strategy around,” said Petersen.
Computer coding is in high demand.
According to Careerkarma.com, starting salaries hover around $50,000 a year.
The free Newport News coding program is already full, but the City of Newport News has free courses for residents who are interested in other fields including healthcare.