New programs to provide more job training for growing tech industry


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy William Alatriste
Photo courtesy William Alatriste

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, together with the City University of New York (CUNY), the Coalition for Queens and tech industry leaders announced two initiatives to help train more New Yorkers for jobs in the city’s growing technology sector.

One of these initiatives will provide for more tech educational opportunities in Queens. Coalition for Queens, a non-profit that focuses on fostering the technical system in the borough, CUNY, Skillshare, and other leaders in the tech field will provide classes in areas such as computer programming, digital marketing and entrepreneurship at CUNY campuses in the boroughs.

The other initiative, open to current computer science and engineering students at CUNY, is an Advanced Software Development program. It will launch this fall, with 20 students. Every student who completes the program will receive a paid apprenticeship with a New York City tech firm. The Queens classes will also launch in the fall, and the Coalition for Queens will have a full list of classes on its site soon.

The City Council has allocated approximately $101,000 for the CUNY Advanced Software Development Program and $65,000 for Coalition for Queens.

“[These programs] bring employers and academia together to ensure that our schools are preparing students for employment in the tech sector upon graduation,” said Quinn

Currently there are 1,700 digital firms in the city, 932 of which are hiring. Unemployment in the city is 9.6 percent, and there are few other industries where half of the companies are still hiring.

But these jobs require specific training and skills. The two programs will not only help close that skills gap and improve unemployment numbers, but will also help ensure continued growth of the tech sector in New York City, she said. In the last four years, more than 500 tech firms have opened in the city.

One applied science campus, Technion-Cornell, should open by 2017 on Roosevelt Island, and will start offering off-campus classes this fall. It’s estimated that 30,000 to 120,000 tech jobs will grow out of the Cornell campus in the future and much of this will be in Queens, said Coalition for Queens founder, Jukay Hsu.

One of his non-profit’s partners in the initiative is Queens College, which educates more computer scientists than any other school in the metropolitan area. The initiative will provide even more opportunities for high-quality tech education in the borough. “We believe that anyone can gain the skills required to work in the new tech community,” he said.

By offering tech classes through CUNY, more New Yorkers will be able to work in the sector, especially those who can’t afford Cornell, said Quinn.

“We want to make sure those folks have exactly, even if not a better chance, of being leaders in the tech field as anybody else. What’s the answer to that — CUNY,” she said.