The NTC Celebrates LEAP Day
Written by: Alex Curtis | Posted Mar 2, 2016

On Monday, February 29, the Nashville Technology Council brought together community members to join us in celebrating the one year anniversary of the LEAP grant. For those who weren’t able to join us, here’s a recap of the day: To start, what exactly is LEAP? The Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP) is the workforce development program of Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 Initiative. It was established by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris & House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick to address the discrepancy between workforce needs and the supply of qualified workers. LEAP’s primary goal is to close the skills gap by ensuring students enrolled in community colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology gain the necessary skills to meet requirements of high-skill, high-tech jobs. LEAP primarily works with educators and employers to identify and close these skills gaps that hinder the economic development of our communities. Early 2015 THEC awarded $10 million in state-funded LEAP grants to twelve local programs. The NTC’s IT Pathway Collaborative was one of those proposals chosen to receive funding. This project creates a regional partnership that addresses the IT skills gap and promotes IT career opportunities in Davidson, Sumner and Williamson counties. Screenshot (162)

Our celebration began with a technology workplace learning day with over 300 students visiting companies in Nashville & surrounding areas. Students were able to see firsthand what a career in technology looks like. With over 1,500 unfilled tech jobs in the Nashville area today, awareness that these jobs exist is key. These students are the future technology talent of Middle Tennessee, and for them to see & learn more about the local tech industry proved to be a great experience for all involved. A huge THANK YOU to all companies who hosted students that day, as well as Emily Bristow, who did a fantastic job of facilitating these field trips. NTC staff also had the pleasure of visiting several of these locations. Take a look at the State’s LEAP Day Storify to see some of the visits, as well as other LEAP Day celebrations!

BNY Mellon, Centresource Technology Solutions, Cisco Systems, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Community Health Systems, Cosmos FiberDell, Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Emma, Inc., Hewlett Packard, Jackson National Life Insurance Co., LBMC Technology Solutions, LLC, LeanKit, HCA, LifeWay, MEDHOST, Inc., Nashville State Community College, Nossi College of Art, Optum, Permanent General Companies, ST8MNT Brand Agency, TechnologyAdvice, UBS Financial Services, Inc., Vanderbilt LASIR Lab

The second portion of our celebration included the launch of our new online platform, We Build Tech. We Build Tech is project of the Nashville Technology Council designed to create a pipeline of tech talent by connecting individuals, businesses and educators in Middle Tennessee. As well as creating a regional partnership to address the skills gap, the IT Pathway Collaborative also increases engagement from IT professionals through the platform. Guest speakers at the event included:

  • Sandi Hoff, VP of Technology Learning & Development, Nashville Technology Council
  • Mark Norris, Senate Majority Leader
  • Curt Johnston, Education and Workforce Alignment Director, THEC
  • Stacey Kizer, Information Technology Teacher, Centennial High School
  • Jason Beyer, Executive Director of IT Operations, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
  • Anne Marie Danko, Managing Director of Operational Performance, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Colleen Hoy, Director We Build Tech, Nashville Technology Council

It was great hearing from such highly recognized and respected individuals in the community. Delicious food, provided by Sifted, drinks and We Build Tech demos concluded the event. We would like to thank everyone who has offered their support & encouragement throughout this process, as well as our partner in creating We Build Tech, Mary Hayes, CEO of Workbay, LCC. We now have over 50 companies & 200 opportunities on the site, and those numbers are growing fast! To become a part of We Build Tech, reach out to Erin Whitaker to get started. See more news about our launch here & here & here.

In parallel to spreading awareness and encouraging students to explore IT career paths, the NTC believes computer education is an important tool for creating exceptional learners and a significant component of achieving college & career readiness. We want every students to have access to high quality computer education. Due to the success of last year’s camps, with over 120 participants, we are hosting another round of summer code camps for K-12 students to learn the following programming languages:

  • Scratch: students will learn over a dozen programs and will create their own sharable blocks & debug faulty code. A great introduction to programming for beginners.
  • Python: an intermediate course where students will write their own programs in an Integrated Development Environment. This camp will cover basic concepts, functions & object-oriented programming, modifying code and writing scripts.
  • Unity: this game building engine will allow students to learn how to navigate & manipulate assets and script. In this intermediate to advanced class, students can bring their games to life.
  • HTML/CSS: an intermediate class on using these two languages for students to create their own unique webpage.
  • Raspberry Pi: students of all skill levels will learn how to build multiple Pi projects by using this versatile micro-computer.

Check back for a final schedule in the upcoming weeks. Reach out to Amy Flatt, Director of K-12 Initiatives, for more information. LEAP Day was all in all a great success, and we can already say we’re looking forward to celebrating the next Leap Day. Stay tuned for more posts & photos!