Transforming IT Workforce Training in Eastern Kentucky
PAINTSVILLE, Ky. – Federal, state and local leaders met in Paintsville, Kentucky on Monday to collaborate with information technology industry experts to explore opportunities to connect Silicon Valley to “Silicon Holler,” an identity coined by Congressman Hal Rogers to describe the growing high-tech workforce in Eastern Kentucky. SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) co-chairs Congressman Rogers (R-KY) and Governor Matt Bevin (R-KY) co-hosted the innovative event with Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal on the campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College. The event featured special guests Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), who represents Silicon Valley, along with industry leaders from Apple, Amazon and Google.
“Silicon Valley is the famed epicenter of innovation and technology in America, so there is no one better situated to help us advance our mission to build Silicon Holler than those who work in the trenches every day,” said Congressman Rogers. “We have the best workforce in the country, so we want to find opportunities in Silicon Valley that we can build upon right here in Eastern Kentucky.”
“I am grateful for the men and women who came to Paintsville today from across America to brainstorm what our future will be. The people in the room are the true work force development pioneers in Kentucky,” said Gov. Bevin. “If we can train people how to code and develop software applications in other parts of the world, why not right here in the Commonwealth? We are confident that we have what it takes to do the high-level work required in Silicon Valley and beyond.”
Interapt recently launched TechHire East Kentucky (TEKY) to train former coal miners and others across the region how to code. The first pilot class attracted 1,600 applicants, showing the desire for new high-tech jobs in Eastern Kentucky is great. The first class of 30 graduated from Interapt, proving they are capable of the rigorous education and training required.
“We had so much success with the first graduating class, that Interapt is proud to announce we will be doing a second cohort. We will begin accepting applications for our second class this spring,” said Gopal. “We’re teaching next generation business and software skills in Eastern Kentucky, and our graduations have the foundations to start a successful software career at Interapt. I am very proud of the dedication our team has exemplified in meeting the rigor of the training program. By showing the capabilities of our graduates to learn next generation skills on a national stage, we hope to recruit more opportunities by creating new partnerships with Silicon Valley.”
A roundtable discussion with over a dozen participants prompted questions aimed at filling needs in Silicon Valley with the workforce in Eastern Kentucky, and how to build upon the success at Interapt.
“Silicon Valley has had incredible success in building and supporting a tech-centric workforce. Such innovation and economic growth should not be limited to a single region of the country,” said Congressman Khanna. “I look forward to returning to Silicon Valley to share the success happening right here in Eastern Kentucky.”
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates nearly two out of three college graduates in 2020 will have the skills needed to work in newly formed technology jobs. A shortage of highly educated talent, combined with substantial job losses within traditional manufacturing industries, has created a new avenue for workforce training and economic development in rural communities. For those reasons, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has invested in TEKY to help continue training the workforce in Eastern Kentucky.
“Innovative workforce development initiatives like TEKY make Appalachia ready to competitively participate in the technology sectors and accelerate changes in our economy,” said Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. “These are great investment opportunities for the region and for the country.”
Workforce development initiatives are one of several goals defined by the SOAR initiative to shape a better future in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.
“SOAR’s mission is to expand job creation, enhance regional opportunity, spur innovation, and improve quality of life,” said Jared Arnett, Executive Director of SOAR. “This new partnership with Silicon Valley is the next step in our journey to diversify the economy in Eastern Kentucky and expand our horizons.
For more information about applying for TEKY 2.0, visit Interapt.com.