Coding Academy Starting; Information session Jan. 7, 5:30 p.m. in Room 227/228 RPC
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) is now accepting applications for the Greater Knox Coding Academy. The first of its kind program at ECTC will train people to be certified information technology (IT) professionals with skills that are in high demand from area defense contractors that support Fort Knox. The first cohort will begin training in February.
ECTC President Dr. Juston Pate said the program was developed after Knox Regional Development Alliance (KRDA) CEO retired Brig. Gen. Jim Iacocca shared news of the challenges defense contractors face in sourcing certified IT talent locally in support of critical missions at Fort Knox. Many of the vacant positions have starting salaries as high as $65,000.
“We knew we needed to develop a solution because supporting Fort Knox, our region’s largest employer, is paramount and doing so provides opportunities for people right here in our region. It is a win-win,” said Pate. “We know we have the talent locally to fill the vacancies, they just need the right training.”
Graduates of the 17-week program will be prepared to test for certification in CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Security+ and as an Oracle Java SE 8 Certified Junior Associate.
“These are certifications the contractors specifically identified for us,” said ECTC’s Steve Bratcher, Coding Academy coordinator.
Bratcher said admission to the program is selective and highly competitive. People ages 17 and older are eligible to apply, including high school seniors. After conferring with area school superintendents, ECTC intentionally chose the February start date so that seniors could complete the course in conjunction with their graduation.
All applicants will be required to take three aptitude tests, pass a background check, and participate in an interview to be considered for the academy. The aptitude tests can all be taken at ECTC’s testing center. Each test takes approximately one hour.
“This is a very demanding course and the certification tests are extremely difficult,” said Bratcher. “We have developed a program to give participants the best chance of passing. The application process is designed to select candidates who are well positioned to succeed in our program.”
Bratcher said the background check is designed to eliminate people with a criminal history who would have a challenging time getting a security clearance, which defense contractor employees typically need.
Bratcher said the college plans to offer the course two additional times in 2020 but that the cost will almost certainly increase. Offered through the college’s Workforce Solutions department, it does not qualify for most traditional forms of financial aid.
“Testing for the certifications alone costs more than $2,500,” he said. “This is an incredible opportunity for students willing to dedicate the time to the course.”
The class will run Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and lunch will be provided.
Iacocca touted ECTC’s leadership and responsiveness. He said when decision makers at the Department of Defense are looking at where to add missions, among the many things they consider is whether the community is supportive and has a skilled available workforce.
“The Greater Knox Coding Academy is yet another example of how time and again this community steps up and supports Fort Knox,” said Iacocca. “ECTC epitomizes the words community partner.”
Pate said while the academy is designed in response to Fort Knox workforce needs, the coding skills academy graduates will acquire are in high demand amongst several of the region’s employers.
For more information or to apply to the coding academy visit elizabethtown.kctcs.edu/coding academy. An informational session will be held at 5:30 p.m. January 7, 2020 at ECTC in the Regional Postsecondary Center (RPC), room 227/228. It is open to anyone interested in the program.