A program that aims to create a new and more diverse tech workforce for Tulsa officially kicks off Monday with its first batch of students.
The Cyber Skills Center – an initiative of Tulsa Community College, Tulsa Innovation Labs and other partners – begins with two 24-week fully online “boot camps”, one focused on cybersecurity and the another on data analysis.
Before the start of Monday, the students – 40 in all, with 20 in each camp – gathered in person at the TCC’s northeast campus last week to meet and receive last-minute encouragement.
The program is free to all attendees and is particularly aimed at underserved groups.
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“What we need in Tulsa is a diversity of talent and growth in the tech sector. And that’s you, all of you here tonight,” center director Jeremy Wade told students. last week.
“Tulsa has been a beacon of economic opportunity, but that opportunity wasn’t accessible enough, and the outcomes and rewards of those opportunities weren’t fair enough. What’s exciting is that it’s changing.
Boot camps, provided by the online learning platform edX, speed up the training process and will be followed at the end by paid apprenticeships. Participants gain the skills needed to gain direct access to jobs in cybersecurity or data analytics and also, if desired, to pursue a related university degree.
Over the next three years, the program could potentially serve more than 200 Tulsans, officials said, and become a nationwide model for how technology growth can serve a diverse group of residents.
Among early students, Levi McLeod said he started at TCC with the intention of becoming a nurse, but then realized the field was not for him. The cyber center was announced at the right time, he said, as he considered his options.
“I’ve always been interested in technology,” McLeod said. “I don’t have any relevant experience, so the opportunity to be immersed in this new world with all these new people I can collaborate with and learn from — I couldn’t pass it up. I can’t wait to see what will come out of it. »
Classmate Leah Nash already has a degree in sociology and a job as a contracts administrator. She thinks that some knowledge and experience in data analysis could open more doors.
“I think it will be a good way to add value to my current role and explore a bit more,” she said.
One of the program’s goals is to make education and career transitions more accessible, officials said. To achieve this, a variety of complementary services are provided, including childcare, transportation allowances, mentoring, job readiness assistance, and other services.
Program officials worked with nearly 30 area nonprofits and other community partners to obtain feedback and recruit students for the program.
New student Billy Miller has a background in software development “but left that world for more stable money doing contract work,” he said. “Now I’m at the point in my life where I’m ready to get back into technology.”
One of the attractions of the cybercentres program for him was the people, he said.
“All of this can be learned on the internet on your own if you have the interest, but having other people to learn from is super beneficial,” Miller said. “It’s exciting for me – having other people around me, having someone else to talk to if you hit a wall.”
Pete Selden, TCC’s Vice President of Workforce Development, told the students, “We’re excited to see what you’ll make of this opportunity – the great jobs you’ll get, the great friendships and relationships you’ll you will tie. You will help us make Tulsa a better place to call home.
Wade added, “This is an exciting time for Tulsa. I think there is momentum for positive change building.
The Cyber Skills Center’s inaugural boot camps run through April. The program will begin accepting applications in March for the next batch of students, officials said.
More information is available at tulsacc.edu/cybercenter. Interested potential attendees can sign up to receive email alerts.
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