Grant to Help Speed High-Tech Degree Programs

“A $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor should help speed up efforts to match needs in education and labor: providing degreed professionals to fill a growing gap in Washington’s computing and software industries.The program will enhance offerings at the University of Washington Tacoma campus.The King County Workforce Development Council, the Software Alliance and the University of Washington have taken the lead in developing a project that could give us a solution to the growing skills gap in Washington, Locke said. The software industry can’t find professionals to fill job openings, and we have a number of dislocated workers looking for job opportunities. This program will produce graduates who are qualified for stable, high-paying jobs with great chance for growth and advancement.The program, which involves the Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell campuses of the UW, will offer students a way to complete a bachelor’s degree in computing and software systems by taking courses grouped into nine certificate programs. The courses will be available online or in classroom learning formats.The federal grant is specifically focused on turning classroom courses into Internet-based distance learning courses.Locke said the Washington Software Alliance, a partner with UW in putting together the proposal, estimates nearly 20 percent of Washington’s software industry jobs are vacant because of a lack of qualified candidates. Most industry jobs require bachelor’s degrees.This program will create a system of lifelong learning, Locke said. The program will be targeted to currently employed workers who want to advance in their professions, and to workers who want to shift careers into the information technology field. Whether you’re beginning to think about a career, or whether you’re entering your third or fourth profession, this program will put you on the track to a high-paying job with great opportunities for growth, Locke said.The on-site courses will be available beginning this fall at the UW Seattle campus.”