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.