A Twin Cities-based tech company will launch a school to train software engineers to fill the growing demand for high tech workers in the state.
Prime Digital Academy is an 18-week program designed to teach students the basics of coding and software development. Applications for the first semester are due by Jan. 22, leaders of the effort said Monday.
Pre-work for the first class begins in March and they'll graduate in July. By the time the school is fully functioning, administrators hope to graduate 200 students a year from the program.
"The goal is not to give them everything they need to know for a career of work," said Mark Hurlburt, who is leaving his position at The Nerdery, a local technology consulting firm, to lead Prime Digital Academy. "Our job is to try to get them the skills necessary for that first job, and the tools they're going to use to be able to keep learning and build their career after that."
Optional apprenticeships will be available from some of the school's more than 30 private partners, including 3M, Thomson Reuters and Smart Factory.
"Part of what we're trying to do with our partners here is have a whole network of apprenticeship opportunities for people after graduation," Hurlburt said. "Those will be paid opportunities, so we're going to help people pay back that tuition by helping them get those first jobs."
The program costs $12,500, with a $500 discount for pre-payment. Hurlburt said the school has set up a financing plan that students can choose to pay back in between one and three years.
Public partners, including the city of Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota and the Creating IT Futures Association, have kicked money into a $400,000 fund for students who need help paying the tuition.
The Nerdery and Modern Climate advertising are each giving $500 scholarships to any women training in the program and the staffing firm Digital People is sponsoring five $500 scholarships for veterans.
The school will keep the state at the forefront of tech innovation and increase the number of women and people of color in the industry, said Erick Garcia Luna, an aide for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
"We can reduce the existing disparities in opportunities as we increase our pool of talent," Luna said. "The mayor is confident this new academy can continue to make strides on another one of her goals, eliminating disparities in our population."
The number of tech jobs is expected to increase by 9 percent in the state over the next decade, according to a forecast from the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The retirement of baby boomers is leaving a shortage of qualified workers across the state, said DEED Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Hanson Willis.
"The only way that we can get through this economic moment and make sure that Minnesota stays economically competitive is to make sure that every Minnesotan who wants to work, who is ready to work, has the skills and abilities to fill these occupations that we know are in such great demand," Willis said.