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A new way to find the tech talent you need

Despite layoffs at tech companies, hiring people with tech skills doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. According to, there are currently 695,077 IT jobs open nationwide. Compare that to the 79,991 computer science students who graduated last year and you see the scale of the problem.

However, there is a solution.

Crystal Crump is the managing director of corporate relations at LaunchCode, a St. Louis-based nonprofit. It provides marginalized people with the advanced technology skills needed for a successful career.

“You don’t necessarily need to have a four-year computer science degree to be successful in tech,” Crump says. “About 50% of people in our program have a bachelor’s degree, but it’s not related to computer science. What we found out is that you don’t need it. You can succeed as long as you have the will, the determination, the ability.

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How it works. LaunchCode, which also has centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and Philadelphia, combines computer classes with a paid learning program. As it is a free part-time program, people can take the training while continuing to work full-time. This makes it accessible to a large number of people who otherwise could not take this type of training. In addition, apprenticeships – which often lead to job offers – provide soft skills and familiarity with the corporate culture in general.

“Our programs reduce the barriers that prevent individuals from learning those technical skills and getting the training, and then connecting with employers who are willing and ready to give them an opportunity,” Crump says.

Help employers. The organization also works with employers, helping them see the value in candidates who don’t 100% match a job description. Crump describes this as “hiring for skills and potential.” In 2021, 132 employers hired LaunchCode graduates, an increase of 12% over the previous year. The companies that hired the most graduates last year were Microsoft, Boeing, Accenture, Comcast and Cigna.

“What we’ve found is that our skills-based, job-focused education and training provides the foundational skills for people who have the passion, drive and skills to succeed,” says- she.

Fulfill many different roles. LaunchCode graduates aren’t just software engineers. They have also been hired as data and business analysts, quality assurance and testing, software development program or project management. “And they also have roles bringing together the business and technical needs of applications,” Crump explains. “We have people who are ready to work right now thanks to LaunchCode’s continuing education program.”

Chart via LaunchCode

The organization was started in 2013 by Jim McKelvey, a St. Louis native and co-founder of Square, best known for its telephone point-of-sale systems. He had originally tried to build a development shop for the company in St. Louis, but couldn’t find the talent he needed and ended up in California. After the successful launch of Square, he decided to do something about it and founded LaunchCode.

The organization is committed to recruiting and enrolling people from historically marginalized communities. To this end, they constantly re-evaluate their procedures and results.

A Brookings Institution report found that as a result of changes to admissions policy, LaunchCode “admitted more black students, female students, and students with fewer hours of prior experience in coding”. The proportion of black students increased by 16 percentage points to 37%; students with less than five hours of coding experience each increased seven percentage points to 46% and 47% respectively.

And, thanks to the growing trend of remote working, this pool of talent is accessible to businesses around the world.

“We work with employers in areas outside of where we have existing operations,” Crump explains, “to see if there is a need for this type of program in their area. And so we did engagements in Wisconsin and in Charlotte, North Carolina. And also in other underserved communities to help develop talent in these areas. We are always looking to talk to companies that want to diversify their workforce and impact surrounding communities. »

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About the Author

Constantine von Hoffman is editor-in-chief of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and technology for, Brandweek, CMO and Inc. He was editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR and has written for Harvard Business Review , Boston Magazine, Sierra and many other publications. He’s also been a professional stand-up comedian, has lectured at anime and game conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and board games, and is the author of realistic and magical novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and too many or too few dogs.

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