The University of Central Arkansas is set to offer a new coding program aimed at preparing students for new careers in information technology with an emphasis on coding, which includes technological activities such as the creation of apps, websites and programs for smart or high-tech appliances.
The Arkansas Coding Academy is set to begin its first three-month session from August 22 and will be able to accommodate up to 15 students, according to academy Director Mary Dunlap.
The participation cost will be $6,000 and will include a Macbook that students will use throughout the course.
Daryl Basset, director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, has expressed the need for courses like this one in our progressively more tech-centered job market:
"We are in a [technological] revolution, I don't want Arkansas to sleep through the revolution."
Dunlap, meanwhile, stated during a news conference that the program will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be a full-time "boot camp program." As reported by ArkansasOnline.com, the program is part of UCA's Division of Outreach and Community Engagement, which offers noncredit, continuing education and outreach opportunities. As such, the only specific requirement needed, according to a UCA news release, is "the desire and willingness to learn".
UCA President Tom Courtway has talked about the need that this course is catering to in a developing job market:
"The Arkansas Coding Academy will not only fill a void in the state for an educated workforce in the areas of technology and computer programming, but will also provide the talent that our new tech startup and existing companies need around the state".
The Arkansas Coding Academy will provide three- and six-month programs with small classroom environments aimed at fostering individual growth. Students who have completed the course will get a certificate while being able to expand their portfolios during the course. They will also get help with job search and staff recommendations. The academy, however, will not provide a formal job placement opportunity.
UCA Trustee Brad Lacey, who also heads the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, has emphasized the course's short length being an evolution born of the modern tech job market's requirements:
"The challenge we have sometimes locally is to provide enough talent. We have to step outside of our traditional box and learn how to deliver education" faster and in a more relevant way."
Partnerships with tech companies include Metova, Acxiom, Rock Pond, Rockfish, JB Hunt and RevUnit.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson lauded the program as the sort of innovative training the state needs:
"I am glad to see that Metova is partnering with UCA to train the next generation of computer coding professionals. The Arkansas Coding Academy will open a wide variety of opportunities for Arkansans to learn the skills necessary to compete in the fast growing and exciting tech sector."
The companies that are partnered with UCA have committed to hiring at least 100 new tech employees each year, and the Arkansas Coding Academy is set up to provide the skills needed to land these positions.
Metova, one of the leading companies in the list of UCA's partnerships, was founded in 2006 with a goal of building beautiful mobile applications within a great working environment. The company focuses primarily on creating mobile, web and cybersecurity solutions for Government and Commercial markets.