By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
A Missoula-based coding school expanded its program to the Hi-Line on Friday, taking the latest step in partnering with private corporations to extend its boot camp across the state.
Aided by a scholarship sponsored by Triangle Communications, the Big Sky Code Academy will begin offering full and part-time coding boot camps in Havre.
Devin Holmes, founder of the academy, said the $7,000 scholarships will be offered to individuals who are accepted into the Havre program.
“It moves us two steps forward,” Holmes said Friday. “It’s the geographic expansion into areas of the state that don’t traditionally see programs like this. That really aligns with our mission to offer all our programs to every Montanan.”
Created in Missoula, the Big Sky Code Academy offers a number of programs, including Montana Code Girls and Teachers Teaching Tech. It also offers 12-week and 21-week web development boot camp classes for adults seeking to enter Montana’s high tech workforce.
But Holmes believes the state’s high-tech focus often looks to Missoula and Bozeman while neglecting rural parts of Montana that also have businesses needing skilled employees.
“The reality is, when we talk high tech, we tend to talk Missoula and Bozeman, and that’s sort of the narrative in our community,” said Holmes. “In Montana, when we talk software development and high tech, we don’t generally talk about the Hi-Line. But they’re making big investments and laying high-speed fiber. Now we just have to create the talent.”
Triangle Communications is looking for that talent and has sponsored five $7,000 scholarships to help make it happen. Holmes said the company will also pay 50 percent of the cost of a new laptop computer to those accepted into the program.
“It’s a big investment on their part, and it’s a model for creating a partnership between us and corporations that want to hire,” said Holmes. “Triangle is actually looking to hire people with these skills, so by sponsoring the class and offering the scholarships, it’s helping build the community and that talent pipeline it needs to grow its business.”
Holmes said such partnerships will also help the academy expand into rural and under served areas of the state, helping create the workforce needed to fill jobs in Montana’s growing technology sector.
Holmes expects other partnerships to come online later this year and is looking to Butte, Billings and Great Falls in particular.
“It’s a model for us, living along the I-90 corridor, to start thinking about how we create partnerships with Montanans to the north who have a great desire to enter the high-tech field but don’t necessarily want to leave their home,” said Holmes. “It takes a while to develop this level of partnership.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org