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Trailhead in Boise receives STEM grant for apprentice program for software developers

The apprentice program will be located at Trailhead North in downtown Boise.

Trailhead, a Boise-based nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs start and scale businesses and high-impact projects, has been awarded a grant from the Idaho STEM Action Center to launch an apprentice program to help aspiring software developers gain the skills and experience required to fill entry level software development positions.

The apprentice program will be located at Trailhead North in downtown Boise.

“We are grateful for the support of the Idaho STEM Action Center for this important initiative. We aim to solve two big problems: First, help our employers find talent to fill their unfilled job openings and second, provide meaningful, high paying careers to more Idahoans,” said John Hale, a Trailhead board member. “Our objective is to develop talent and advance economic mobility of Idahoans by training motivated individuals to thrive in rewarding software careers.”

The Idaho Business Review reported that the grant was worth $200,000.

“Idaho companies are having a difficult time filling their computer science related positions” said Angela Hemingway, executivedirector of the Idaho STEM Action Center. “This certainly is not unique to Idaho, it’s a global challenge. To more quickly meet the immediate needs of Idaho’s CS community, we are delighted to partner with Trailhead. Their unique approach to an apprenticeship program will serve to educate the next generation of computer scientists who will be prepared to move immediately into Idaho’s workforce. It is this type of public-private partnership that serves to grow Idaho’s workforce by providing our citizens with the training they need to transition into a new career which will ultimately strengthen Idaho’s economy.”

The Trailhead apprentice program provides a practical, incremental pathway to a career in software development. The program consists of a 10-week series of part-time, evening courses that teach core web development skills combined with a 6-month, full-time, compensated apprentice program. To assist in the delivery of this program, Trailhead is working with private software development and education partners including Vynyl and Tyro.

In the apprentice program, apprentices work under the mentorship of senior developers to complete real-world projects sourced from local employers. Apprentices also dedicate a portion of their time to learning computer science fundamentals, including data structures, algorithms, and object-oriented programming. Apprentices will be fully compensated over the duration of the apprentice program.

“We learned from employers that real-world work experience and a strong grasp of core computer science topics are the two most valued skills in entry-level software developers,” said Zach Richardson, Founder of Tyro. “We designed our program to enable people to take introductory courses to determine whether they want to pursue a career in software development before they quit their current job to do so. Those with the aptitude and interest can then apply for the apprentice program where they can be paid while gaining experience, and filling out their education”.

The first cohort will launch this summer. Those who wish to apply may do so at http://trailheadboise.org/apprentice/. Strong applicants will have some coding or computer science experience, and will have completed at least one software project that demonstrates their abilities. Those who are interested but do not possess the necessary coding experience are encouraged to enroll in our Front-End Foundations Series

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