An $850K State Grant Wants To Turn Tech-Savvy Students Into Technology Workers
The students at 100 Girls of Code learned, among other things, how to program computer games. Credit: Katy Campen / 100 Girls of Code

An $850K State Grant Wants To Turn Tech-Savvy Students Into Technology Workers

The students at 100 Girls of Code learned, among other things, how to program computer games. Credit: Katy Campen / 100 Girls of Code
Getting more students interested in technology jobs should start before they reach college, the Nashville Technology Council says. Pictured: Girls in Nashville learn how to program computer games. Credit: Katy Campen / 100 Girls of Code

Technology companies in Middle Tennessee will be working more with high schools and community colleges this year, thanks to an $850,000 grant from the state. The goal is to get more students thinking about careers in information technology — that’s anything from coding computer programs to managing data centers or working at a telecomm company.

According to the Nashville Technology Council, which received the funding, only about 600 students currently take IT classes at local community colleges. That’s nowhere near the demand for jobs in the field, it said in its budget proposal.

Part of the grant will go toward helping colleges change their IT programs to become more marketable, says NTC president Bryan Huddleston.

“We want to teach what employers are seeking,” he says.

But the real solution starts in high schools, Huddleston says — just getting kids interested in the field early on.

“Students have all of this technology today. They have smartphones, they have tablets,” he says. “But what they don’t have is the context that someone creates that.”

The Nashville Technology Council will be setting up paid internships, job shadowing days and mentorships at high schools around the region. It’s one of a dozen organizations that got $10 million in total from the state to boost education in high-demand career fields, including IT and advanced manufacturing.

Emily Siner

Emily Siner is an enterprise reporter at WPLN. She has worked at the Los Angeles Times and NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and her written work was recently published in Slices Of Life, an anthology of literary feature writing. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On Twitter: @SinerSays
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