Columbia College’s new Brouder Science Center was the site of the first exploratory meeting of LaunchCode in outstate Missouri on May 4. The meeting of more than 80 participants representing a wide array of Columbia businesses, organizations, and educational institutions was orchestrated by Rep. Kip Kendrick, who has been intrigued with the possibilities that a Columbia-LaunchCode partnership could create.
LaunchCode, begun in St. Louis about one and one-half years ago, is a non-profit enterprise that links burgeoning or latent technical talent with skilled training and mentored apprenticeships in participating businesses. Their niche lies in turning problems into opportunities––at the same time that tech employers cannot find sufficiently qualified employees to fill needed positions, there are many unemployed or under-employed persons who don’t meet traditional job qualifications but who have skills or interest in pursuing those jobs. LaunchCode “custom matches” and/or custom trains those individuals to meet each employer’s needs. So rather than an employer advertising for qualifications––for instance, a degree in computer science with 3-5 years’ experience––LaunchCode finds or trains a non-traditional worker to the specified skill level.
In LaunchCode’s short existence they have now placed more than 300 employees with guaranteed technical and/or programming competence into selected jobs with a mean salary of $50,000. LaunchCode brings the added value of assessing technical skills, arranging for training (as indicated by each individual participant), and matching each potential employee in need of a job with an ideal 30-90 day apprenticeship and mentorship, followed by long-term technical job placement in a partnering business.
A first-year analysis of their impact in St. Louis showed $28M flowing back into the St. Louis economy from the conversion of 90% of the technology apprentices to full-time employees. Of the initial 140 Year 1 participants, 18% had a degree in computer science, 42% had no college degree, and 60% held a college-degree in an another field.
Columbia showed their excitement in this opportunity. Let’s take the next step!
Read more about LaunchCode on their website.
Read about the LaunchCode model in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.