UnknownThe Atlanta Workforce Development Agency and TechSquare Labs will launch a year-long coding school for inner-city youth, according to a media release from the city.

The pilot program, which is the first of its kind, is designed for underserved youth in Atlanta between the ages of 18 to 24 to learn to code, get a job in the tech industry or to start a high growth company.

“Technology training is one of the most important skills needed to compete and advance in today’s workforce, and unfortunately many of our nation’s underserved young people are left behind unequipped to compete in this rapidly growing industry,” said Michael T. Sterling, Executive Director, Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. “As the workforce system for the city of Atlanta, it is our responsibility to make Atlanta’s workforce more competitive, and collaborating with a company such as TechSquare Labs whose focus is teaching individuals how to effectively navigate the innovation and entrepreneurship world, is a step in the right direction.”

This full, immersive coding school will require participants to live in school-sponsored housing for the full length of the program as well as participate in counseling and therapy sessions with a licensed counselor. Both instructors and mentors will prepare students for a career as a professional junior-level programmer and software engineer. The program goes beyond tactical skills and teaches students how to think like a software engineer, where students also receive training in the areas of ideation, design thinking, business model generation, financial responsibility, diversity, inclusion and career readiness.

“I am excited about the possibilities of developing Atlanta’s technical workforce and future technical cofounders,” said Rodney Sampson, Chief, Diversity + Inclusion Initiatives, TechSquare Labs. “The young people that complete this intensive, fully immersive program will possess the skills to immediately join hundreds of companies looking for junior software engineers and eventually go on to possibly be a part of Atlanta’s next billion dollar startup like my partner, Dr. Paul Judge. These students will have no limits to what they will be able to create and build in the innovation economy.”

The one-year program will include four months of intense coding classes, where students will become proficient in Java, JavaScript and Python programming languages, four months of career readiness to help students prepare for the workplace and four months of co-founders school, where the students will learn how to think as an entrepreneur and learn what it takes to build a business.

“Starting as a coder, I’ve been able to build several high growth companies and create hundreds of jobs,” said Dr. Paul Judge, partner at TechSquare Labs. “There is nothing that separates me from the students we look forward to taking through this program. To this end, TechSquare Labs is excited to partner with the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency on this innovative workforce development initiative.”

The program starts in February 2016, and students interested in applying to this program must attend the mandatory orientation on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency headquarters (818 Pollard Blvd., SW. 30315). To qualify, the applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 24, and either be a high school dropout with a GED or completed high school with no post-secondary degree.

For more information, visit www.atlantaga.gov/awda.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.