Partnership aims to fill gap in Nebraska tech workforce

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:52 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska has a need for software engineers as the workforce continues to adapt and change.

A new partnership between Don’t Panic Labs and Doane University is aiming to bridge that gap with a collaborative program. It takes non-tech employees from Nebraska companies and trains them to become software engineers in an accelerated program.

Estimates show as many as 3,000 unfilled software engineer positions in the State.

“The fact that our colleges and universities only produce about 500 graduates a year, you can see the gap there,” said Doug Durham the CEO of Don’t Panic Labs.

The program is separated into four steps: learning fundamentals at Doane, getting hands-on experience with Don’t Panic employees, a capstone project with local non-profits, and an apprenticeship at the company they will join after graduation.

“We’re taking people who are in a pretty good job now that could easily be a software developer, but they don’t really have the training,” said Chad Michel, a senior software engineer. “They have the aptitude. They just need some training.”

The program was initially funded by a $150,000 grant from the Nebraska Department of Labor.

Sponsors like ALLO, Nelnet, and NRC Health cover costs for participants during the program. Once they graduate, they place them back into the workplace.

“Where they’ll actually be working with their mentor,” said professor Alec Engebretson from Doane. “Through all of that, it’s just some exciting best practices that, from an education perspective, provides them a really good experience.”

The program is set to start its second round in January. Right now, it’s looking for both student applicants and to broaden its sponsor company pool.

For more information check out their website.

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