Cuyahoga County employers advertised more than 6,000 open software development jobs in September, while Cleveland area colleges graduate only about 400 people computer science majors each year, according to Anthony Hughes.
Hughes, the founding director of JumpStart’s Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program for three years and former president of Akron’s Software Guild, wants to close the talent gap and bring more coding talent to Cleveland. “I saw the struggle we were having as a region to support startups,” says Hughes. “The concentration of technical talent in Northeast Ohio has lagged behind the rest of the country.”
Modeled after internationally-recognized coding boot camp programs and his experience with the Software Guild, Hughes recently started Tech Elevator – a 14-week boot camp that teaches Java and .Net to students. At the end of the program, graduates receive job placement assistance. Hughes has aligned with a number of Cleveland-based companies, including Hyland Software, OnShift and Brandmuscle, to name just a few.
In fact, Hughes promises he’ll refund the $12,000 tuition if they don’t find a job within 120 days of completing the program.
The average salary of developers in Cleveland is $85,000, and the industry is on track to have one million open positions nationally, according to Hughes. The problem is, these are jobs that require training. “It''s a fierce market for technical talent right now,” he says. “There’s a lot of poaching going on between companies. It’s a great field to get into, but it’s not a fake it ‘til you make it field.”
Tech Elevator hopes it can train the right people and help fill some of those open positions. “If you are willing to work hard, take advice and learn, they payoff is so great,” says Hughes. “From a local standpoint, it’s an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and not be too dependent on one industry.”
Applicants must take an aptitude test to determine if they are right for software development careers. The test measures logic, reasoning pattern matching and basic algebra. Applicants also go through an interview process. “We want them to want this for the right reasons,” says Hughes.
Tech Elevator is holding an open house on Thursday, November 5 and Friday, November 6 for prospective students. Six students will graduate in December from the program, and applications are open for the spring session, which starts January 25.