Tech is hot in Minnesota. From manufacturing to bioscience to alternative energy production, Minnesota companies are thriving, with the state ranking in the top ten in the country for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs, according to a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce 2016 report. So what’s the catch? The jobs are here, but employers are desperate for people skilled enough to fill them. 

Enter the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS), which is poised to deliver dozens of skilled workers into Minnesota’s booming tech economy with its Full Stack Web Development Certificate, an intensive 24-week, comprehensive coding “boot camp.”

The College has long supported professional development with a range of courses and certificates to beef up on-the-job skills or help workers step into new careers. Since early 2015, it has awarded over 800 certificates in project management, business analysis, and organization development, to name a few. The web developer certificate is the biggest and most ambitious program they’ve offered to date. To ensure success, CCAPS has partnered with continuing education program manager Trilogy Education Services, Inc. The company was the first to involve universities in the high tech training revolution and delivers its courses in continuing education units on more than 25 campuses across the country, including Northwestern, Georgia Tech, University of Texas at Austin, and University of California, Berkeley. 

“It’s a win-win for Minnesota employers and employees.”

“Workforce development is a critical component of our mission,” said Sue Borowick, who was CCAPS's executive director at the time. “We want to be sure we’re delivering a high-quality program, helping people get well-paying, satisfying work, and meeting employer needs for skilled employees.” 

Borowick said in choosing a partner for the program, the College prioritized transparency, value alignment, up-to-date content, and student support. “We wanted a multifaceted experience for our participants, one that blends cutting-edge content, hands-on skill development, and support with the job search. It was essential that we partner with a company that would align with those values and goals. Trilogy meets our requirements on all levels.” 

“Our courses are designed toward successful outcomes for students as well as employers,” said Dan Sommer, founder and CEO of Trilogy. “We partner with universities because we believe that they are the solution to the workforce development gap." 

Before approaching a school, the company thoroughly assesses the local market capacity and need, which they found in abundance in Minnesota. “We look for strong student and business demand,” said Sommer. “We found this in Minnesota. The U of M is part of a vibrant community and has a powerful influence on the state—we’re proud to be working with them.”  

Launching a new project in a new format doesn’t come without its challenges. Borowick said she was most concerned about the size of the program. “This is a big leap forward for the College and we want to be sure our students are happy with the program,” she said. “But we know our staff are up to the task and we’re confident any growing pains will happen behind the scenes. We also trust Trilogy to deliver on their promises.”

Alongside the immersive coursework, Trilogy embeds career services, such as networking events, employer introductions, and placement support, into their curriculum. The first cohort of the coding boot camp, which has already filled, starts in November, with two sessions of evening and weekend classes that will meet in the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul campus. Graduates of the program will leave with a portfolio of completed real-world projects along with the skills needed to enter careers in front-end development, software development, technical project management, web production, technical SEO, and more.

Hopes are high for the Full Stack Web Development Certificate, whose intensive course schedule, delivered on week nights and weekends, may serve as a model for how the College delivers other certificate programs. “We’re excited about expanding our certificate offerings and looking forward to serving a new audience,” said Borowick. “It’s a win-win for Minnesota employers and employees.”