Whether you consider yourself technically savvy or not, society has undeniably become more reliant on modern tech and software. It’s something that more people have come to realize, which has resulted in a dramatic uptick in interest and enrollment at Modesto’s Bay Valley Tech coding academy.
According to Bay Valley Tech president Phillip Lan, the academy is expected to teach over 1,000 students across their tuition-free code academy, digital skills bootcamp and tech internship program in 2023. By this time next year, he expects that figure to double.
“If you look at industries like agriculture or manufacturing or construction or finance, they now have more software developers than a lot of software companies or tech companies, and that’s because these non-tech companies are finding that they need to quickly build tech expertise to be a leader in their field and in order to win market share in order to increase efficiencies,” Lan said. “The last stats we saw showed that they were nearly a million tech workers short, and in two years, we're projecting that there will be a 1.8 million shortage of tech workers.”
In other words, it's a dynamic where many jobs will be replaced by computers, but there needs to be engineers, coders and developers to maintain and advance those technologies. Lan explained that this trend will only accelerate with the recent developments and rising popularity of artificial intelligence. Additionally, businesses are continuing to increase their online presence. According to the State of California Employment Development Department, there are over 25,200 job ads throughout the state for software development and computer-related positions, the third-largest employment sector in the state behind health care and retail.
Lan described the program as a “win-win” opportunity for students and local employers, as students can get paid experience while the local organizations can further implement technology into their practices. He also believes that those here in in the Central Valley have an upper hand on nationwide job competition.
“Right here in Turlock, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento, Merced area, we are in a very enviable position geographically. We sit on the doorstep of Silicon Valley… There's 6.5 million people in the Central Valley right now with a huge labor force and a huge market for tech companies, so they're starting to look and explore this region,” Lan explained.
It’s something also recognized by educational, government, non-profit and corporate partners around the area, who come together to fund or host Bay Valley Tech’s programs. In previous years, Stanislaus State has hosted web development boot camps for computer science majors and provided students resume writing workshops and networking events. Additionally, Bay Valley Tech and the Turlock Unified School District also joined forces to offer courses at the Turlock Adult School.
Lan explained that Bay Valley Tech has served as a complimentary tool to local college graduates, while also giving others an additional opportunity to make a career change.
“We ended up starting our own training program, not to compete with any of our great educational institutions here, but to complement their work, and in some ways, we act as a finishing school for a lot of Cal State students to teach them modern programming languages and frameworks that are difficult for them to get in the university settings because professors generally have left the industry,” Lan said. “And for others, a lot of us will graduate from college with non-technical degrees, and we'll be working and it'll take a good five years to a decade to struggle, and then you look around at some folks working in tech making four times more than you and they’re the same age, and so the light bulbs start to go on.”
Allison Hardy is an alumna of Stan State, receiving her B.S. in Computer Science, and was one of the many who came to Bay Valley Tech after struggling to find a well-paying tech job. After completing the training program at Bay Valley Tech, Hardy was able to get an internship at ClearWave, and was later hired by Tyler Technologies as a junior PHP developer.
“I had access to way more opportunities going through Bay Valley Tech’s program and becoming part of the local tech network than if I had done it alone,” she said. “The training I received has made me a more skilled and confident developer, and Bay Valley Tech opened a lot of doors for me.”
Considering the fact that there are several technical degrees offered in the region and that many individuals are revisiting those career paths later in their lives, the promotion of Career Technical Education (CTE) throughout Turlock Unified has seen a major uptick. During his latest update to the Board of Trustees in January, TUSD CTE director John Acha shared that program participation has grown over the past year.
CTE courses within TUSD include agriscience, industrial and integrated engineering technology and physics of electronic robotics. At Turlock High, there are currently 1,346 students participating in a CTE course or activity. It is only a three-student increase from last school year, but Acha explained that the majority of students are in involved in multiple activities at once. Over at Pitman High, there are 988 students involved in CTE, an 89-person jump from last year. Like Turlock, a strong majority are taking more than one CTE class or activity at the same time. When it comes to Roselawn, Acha said their numbers are more difficult to measure considering the fact that there is a lot of fluctuation to general enrollment, but he did make note that there were 55 students enrolled in CTE courses at the start of the current school year.
With more tech-related career options being exposed to children and with the increased awareness from the general public of technological advances and needs, Lan urged individuals to act fast. For more information on Bay Valley Tech or to apply for any of their programs, head to www.bayvalleytech.com.