RHODE CODERS: The new tech workforce development model
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs in the United States, and only 400,000 qualified candidates. Here in Rhode Island, state leadership has made it a priority to integrate computer science into every K-12 classroom.
While this initiative is important and a much needed step, the immediate needs for software engineers and programmers will not be met in time, without similar initiatives in adult workforce development and retraining. That is why Providence Public Library (PPL) decided to make workforce development the focus of our adult and teen programming.
At the end of the course, club members are able to use what they have learned to build their own personalized website and online game. We are currently rolling out micro-credentials as evidence of learning. Beginning in July 2017, each participant can earn a Mozilla coding badge and a ‘super’ badge for their website and online game. As we solidify our partnerships with higher education and more advanced computer science training programs, our aim is to use the badges as currency that will give priority to Rhode Coders for admission into their programs.
Mozilla’s Thimble IDE online resource is the primary tool of the Rhode Coders instructors. The flexible design of using remixed coding projects allows the instructor to create curriculum to share and work on interactively in a classroom setting. Sharing project code among members and the instructor greatly enhances the collaborative process.
In less than a year, Rhode Coders has expanded to three other Rhode Island libraries, one adult education organization, and a public housing authority. Plans are moving forward to bring this initiative statewide through state funding. To date, more than 150 Rhode Islanders have completed a Rhode Coder cohort, with more than a dozen participants having gone on to coding boot camps or enrolled in higher education computer science fields.
A participant from the most recent Rhode Coder cohort was accepted into the highly competitive and rigorous Rhode Island state sponsored coding boot camp General Assembly. When sharing news of her acceptance, the Rhode Coder said to her instructor, “You have changed my life!”
~ Don Gregory
Rhode Coders Club Creator
Providence Public Library