NYC Tech Talent Pipeline’s Mobile Dev Course Comes to Flatiron School

Can workers who get a crash course in technology truly compete on the job front?

New York may soon see.

Last week, the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline—an initiative from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration—announced it chose the Flatiron School coding academy to run its new Mobile Dev Corps training program. This is yet another page in the city’s playbook to get more locals access to education in tech.

The three-month program to train engineers for mobile development, for free, will have its first go-round starting in January, says Adam Enbar (pictured above), president of the Flatiron School. The city is footing the bill for tuition and multiple classes are expected to run through 2016, he says, to collectively train some 60 students.

Applications will be open to underserved New Yorkers who lack professional tech skills and make less than $50,000 annually. “If you went to an Ivy League school, worked for two years, and then took a year off to travel, you might technically fit the criteria, but that’s not necessarily the person we are looking to serve,” he says.

Most of the folks Enbar expects to enter the program will have no college experience, probably worked in retail, but have a passion for program. The hope is that the graduates will be able to compete for positions that garner salaries upwards of $60,000—without taking on the burden of student loans or spending four years at a university.

Flatiron School already works with the city in a similar capacity with the NYC Web Development Fellowship program, which currently has a class underway that runs through December.

This all feeds into the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline’s objective of giving New Yorkers, particularly those who are underrepresented or with limited educational access, more of a shot at careers in technology. Similar efforts have sprung up from the private sector, including the Capital One Opportunity Fellows Fund, done in conjunction with General Assembly.

There have been rousing calls—in New York and beyond—to get more people across diverse ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic demographics directly involved in the innovation and technology industries. But here’s the rub: those who lack professional training in tech have had little recourse for pursuing careers in such sectors despite the ongoing demand.

Enbar says graduates of Flatiron School, one of many coding academies and boot camps to pop up in recent years, see average starting salaries of $74,000 and have a 99 percent job placement rate. With the NYC Web Development Fellowship program, he says, Flatiron School has given folks from underserved backgrounds a career jumpstart. “We have nineteen-year-olds, without degrees, making on average $75,000 working as software engineers at companies like Goldman Sachs, Kickstarter, Foursquare, and The New York Times,” Enbar says.

The city’s desire to expand this type of training to other technology disciplines led to the Mobile Dev Corps program, he says. The coursework will teach students to be developers for the iOS mobile operating system, and place them in jobs.

Leading more people to tech careers needs to be about more than just getting them in the door. Once they graduate, they must keep their skills sharp to remain competitive in the workforce. “Part of our responsibility is preparing students for long-term careers, not just their first job,” Enbar says.

The playing field for the tech industry is more level than some careers, he says, since it requires continual learning and drive in order to be successful. “The vast majority of iOS engineers in our country were self-taught because iOS wasn’t even a thing eight years ago,” he says.

To that end, the coursework will push students in the program to continue to learn on their own, Enbar says. But this still begs the question of whether someone who completes a coding boot camp, and develops a few years of real work experience, can compete with someone who just graduated with a four-year computer science degree. “I think any employer will tell you they’d rather hire the person with experience,” he says.

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