As the tech industry continues to grow in the Seattle area, many employers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire enough skilled workers to meet their needs. It’s not just the big names of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft that need a pipeline of talented developers; 90% of the state’s information and communication technology companies have fewer than 20 employees, and companies across every industry – retail, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, and others – are evidence of the idea that every company is a tech company.

Industry experts invited to share feedback

AppConnect NW, an innovative network of five community and technical colleges with software development programs, is pursuing a strategic solution to this challenge in collaboration with the WTIA and industry partners. Tech industry leaders representing more than a dozen companies came together at Lake Washington Institute of Technology on Feb. 9 for an in-depth Industry roundtable panelistsconversation about the technical skills they need in their workforce now and over the next five years. Panelists shared their insights about the emergence of cloud computing, the importance of data, and the impact of artificial intelligence. By the end of the session, they had developed a framework of the specific technical skills, programs, processes, and tools that are critical for junior developers.

This all-day conversation will be put into action by AppConnect faculty to improve the curriculum and ensure that they’re teaching students the most in-demand skills. The results of this process will be shared at WTIA’s FullConTech: “Building a Better Workplace” conference on May 8.

Collaboration to better meet local industry needs

The five colleges in the AppConnect network (Bellevue College, LWTech, Green River College, North Seattle College, and Renton Technical College) offer Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees in Software & Application Development. AppConnect NW was formed to address the need for a coordinated approach to alleviating the extreme shortage of application and software developers in the greater Puget Sound region. Over the next few years, the five participating colleges will add several hundred qualified tech workers to the mix, including many individuals who have traditionally been underrepresented in the tech field. The BAS degrees emphasize hands-on learning and industry-relevant curriculum informed by ongoing interactions like the Feb. 9 industry roundtable at LWTech.

AppConnect is seeking industry partners that want to help address the statewide tech talent shortage, meet their own hiring needs, and engage with the next generation of developers. Opportunities include hiring and internship activities, guest lecturing, mentorship, curriculum development, K-12 outreach, and more. To learn more and get involved, contact info@appconnectnw.org.

The AppConnect NW project is funded by the National Science Foundation.