- To help workers gain the skills needed to work in the tech industry, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak's online tech education company, Woz U, is piloting a program with CareerCircle, Allegis Group announced.
- Woz U's full-stack web development, cybersecurity and data science programs will be offered through self-paced online courses and instructor-led classes in four cities: Baltimore; Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Chicago.
- The pilot will be analyzed to validate metrics and identify opportunities for other high-demand skills, according to Allegis, a talent solutions company. Set for a full rollout in 2019, additional courses and skill sets may be added.
Wozniak opened Woz U in 2017 with online courses and plans to add campuses in more than 30 cities in the U.S. Demand for digitally fluent workers continues to rise as their supply dwindles. In a recent survey, nine in 10 businesses said they need more employees with technical skills, even as almost three-quarters believe those people will be harder to find.
At its first anniversary, Woz U President Chris Coleman told CIO Dive the platform is connecting adult learners with the training they need to upskill. The majority of their students are between the ages of 25 and 35, most of whom have a degree and are looking to change careers. However, some students have said Woz U has failed to live up to its promises, with outdated information and few instructors.
In October, the University of North Dakota announced it was partnering with Woz U, giving students at the college access to the tech education provider's full-stack web development, cybersecurity and data science programs. In a letter announcing the partnership, U of North Dakota officials cited the "career-based" nature of Woz U's technology courses as a way to help its students develop skills needed to work in the tech industry.
Many businesses hurting for technology-inclined workers have partnered with governments, secondary and postsecondary schools, nonprofits and other institutions to open opportunities for learners in tech careers. The current skills gap is not only challenging companies to reach current employee needs, but it also threatens to stifle future growth across a wealth of industries if a reliable applicant stream can't be created.
Colleges are heeding that call, primarily through certificates and other short-term credentialing programs developed in tandem with the private sector and tailored to workforce needs.
Karen Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, a nonprofit focused on bettering outcomes for community college students, told attendees at the Educause conference this fall that colleges should require those employers to "put skin in the game" in the form of funding and thought leadership to make sure such credentials aren't just a band-aid fix for companies struggling to find workers.