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Meet Two Organizations Building The Next Generation Of Tech Talent In Delaware

A range of initiatives is helping Delaware build a robust and diverse pipeline for tech talent.

The war for tech talent has been described as having “no end in sight,” with the pandemic driving even greater tech adoption and companies needing qualified candidates now more than ever. 

As companies set out to find the best talent for the next generation of technologies, one place they should start their search is Delaware. Delaware’s low cost of living coupled with its longstanding sector strength in financial services, chemistry and life sciences are attracting talent that is impressed by the value the state has to offer.

Delaware has the highest relative concentration of financial services jobs of any U.S. state. The sector accounts for 9% of all jobs in the state — a figure nearly twice the U.S. average. What's more, Delaware’s biotech research and development workforce concentration is more than 1.5 times the national average, while the Delaware Technology Park serves as a centralized hub where technology companies and academic research institutions come together to incubate ideas and conduct world-class research. 

Along with all this, Delaware has another thing to offer tech companies: access to a diverse, deep tech talent pool. The fourth-highest U.S. concentration of Ph.D.s working in health, science and engineering can be found in Delaware, and the state also rates highly for its concentration of technology workers, ranking seventh nationwide, just ahead of California. There are more than 100 colleges and universities within two hours of Delaware, and several unique organizations are working to build up the next generation of tech talent in the state. 

A member of Code Differently

Code Differently and Zip Code Wilmington are two Delaware-based organizations that aim to train locals who are interested in moving into a career in tech. Desa Burton, executive director at Zip Code Wilmington, said the group’s mission is to build the economy of the state by training talented individuals who are seeking to make a transition into a tech career with full-stack software developer skills.

“By doing that, we are able to help build the economy by placing them in jobs with partners in our region — increasing the tax base and the number of people who choose to call Delaware home,” Burton said. 

Burton added that, while the average age of a Zip Coder is 35, students in Zip Code Wilmington's program range in age from 18 to 60. When they enter the 12-week immersion program — where they can learn Java software engineering or data engineering and analytics — they are usually making yearly salaries in the mid-$20K range. Once they graduate, many are offered jobs with salaries averaging $75K a year in the financial, telecommunications and pharmaceutical software industries, among others. 

According to Burton, on average, 75% of graduates stay in the area. Thanks to Delaware’s status as an established and growing financial services and fintech hub, Zip Code Wilmington’s corporate hiring partners include large financial institutions including M&T Bank, Wilmington Trust and Marlette Funding. 

“Our 2021 Java program had around a 95% graduation rate and within three months, 74% of those individuals were able to get jobs,” she said. “Within six months, that number went up to 86%.”

Stephanie Eldridge, CEO of Code Differently, described her organization as a “diversity, equity, inclusion, technology and workforce solutions company” that delivers career-focused technology training to people who are underrepresented in the tech industry, including women and people of color. The organization focuses on teaching software development skills, including Java, Spring Boot, AWS, React and other competencies that will help people learn how to work in the back end of tech development. 

Desa Burton and members of Zip Code Wilmington

Code Differently is also a certified training partner for the software company ServiceNow and trains people to work on its proprietary platform. Despite the fact that the company is based in California, Eldridge said, the collaboration currently has 36 Delaware residents in training who will work remotely in jobs averaging $75K upon completion. She added that JP Morgan Chase and Vanguard have also hired several employees through Code Differently, as have Accenture, Comcast, HubSpot and Oracle. 

The organization also works directly with some companies to create training programs tailored to their exact needs. 

“We work with local companies as well as those across the U.S. and abroad to understand exactly what employers are looking for and where they’re heading,” Eldridge said. “We talk to their recruiting teams, hiring managers and even their architects. We are all technologists on the leadership side of Code Differently, so we understand the language really well.” 

Along with unemployed and underemployed adults, Code Differently works with hundreds of high school students as part of its youth pipeline program, creating the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. This is a full-time program, so Code Differently does what it can to offer stipends, childcare vouchers and other benefits that can remove the barriers for people to complete it. Currently, Eldridge said, 90% of the group's graduates get hired after they complete the program. 

Eldridge also brought up the Delaware IT Industry Council, which brings corporations together from across the state to better understand what their tech talent needs are to help ensure there are trained Delaware residents ready to fill open positions. 

“Delaware is just a very unique space,” Eldridge said. “It is big enough to find great tech talent and to build tech talent, but it’s small enough that you can see immediate community impact when you're training people to move into tech careers.” 

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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