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Trailhead in Boise is about to offer a new path to a software career, and it’s paid

Casey McMullin, director of digital solution development at Freeman Digital Ventures, speaks in August 2016 to a group at Trailhead about the need for coders in an increasingly digital world.
Casey McMullin, director of digital solution development at Freeman Digital Ventures, speaks in August 2016 to a group at Trailhead about the need for coders in an increasingly digital world. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Trailhead, Boise’s nonprofit startup accelerator and coworking space, plans to launch an apprenticeship program for aspiring coders.

Trailhead, at the corner of Eighth and Myrtle streets, already offers evening introductory coding courses at its Trailhead North location one block north. Trailhead also plans to offer full-day coding courses in the coming months.

The apprentice program is different: Apprentices will earn $12 to $15 an hour to build apps. They will learn software engineering, web development and computer-science basics, including data structures and algorithms. Applicants must have some coding experience or have completed Trailhead’s coding courses. They must have completed at least one software project already.

Dan Faricy, Trailhead’s new executive director, said the program aims to produce more work-ready developers for Treasure Valley tech companies whose growth is stymied by a talent shortage. The program’s goal is to produce graduates ready to step into junior-developer positions offering much higher pay than the apprenticeship program, he said.

Trailhead will start with four apprentices in the fall with the goal of expanding the program after the first six-week cohort finishes, Faricy said.

“Businesses in the Treasure Valley need developers,” Faricy said. “This program allows apprentices to get some real-world experience.”

The Idaho STEM Action Center will fund the program with a $200,000 grant. The center was created by the Legislature in 2015 to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

“It is this type of public-private partnership that serves to grow Idaho’s workforce by providng our citizens with the training they need to transition into a new career which will ultimately strenghthen Idaho’s economy,” said Angela Hemingway, the center’s executive director, in a news release.

Vynyl, A Boise company that builds apps and offers other tech services, will oversee the program. Vynyl employees will coach apprentices through projects and make sure partner companies receive the apps they ordered.

“We needed a backstop on the technology side. That’s what Vynyl is,” Faricy said.

Trailhead’s code school is the second to open in the Treasure Valley. BoiseCodeWorks opened in Garden City in 2015 and offers an immersive, 12-week course as well as part-time classes like those currently available at Trailhead.

BoiseCodeWorks had agreed to run Trailhead’s code school before the two sides parted ways. Both groups say there’s more than enough demand for coders in the Valley to support two code schools.

Zach Kyle: 208-377-6464, @ZachKyleNews

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