UNE Fast-tracks Courses in Digital Sciences to Upgrade Maine Workforce

UNE Fast-tracks Courses in Digital Sciences to Upgrade Maine Workforce

From the Portland Press Herald – 12/22/2016

The Portland campus will offer accelerated courses beginning in January to help meet employers’ need for tech-savvy workers.

The University of New England is hoping to fast-boot Maine’s employment growth in technical fields such as computer science by creating a series of accelerated courses with the help of major employers.

This week, the university’s Portland campus announced the launch of the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences, which will offer five eight-week courses beginning in January. The courses, referred to as programs, will be conducted primarily online and will cover subjects including software development, data analysis and project management. All five programs will be offered simultaneously every eight weeks….

The academy’s creator, UNE Director of Computational Digital Programs Jay Collier, said Maine does not have enough talent in the workforce to meet employers’ needs for technical jobs such as computer programmers, Web developers and database managers. He said the academy offers a way for students, recent graduates and workers employed in other fields to gain basic skills in those high-demand technical disciplines that could lead them to new careers or enhance their current ones…

“There are no guarantees of any kind,” he said, “(but) there are many people who do not know how they would be welcomed into the field. We’re trying to help people who don’t see themselves in the field because the demand is there.”

Collier said he is confident that the academy will be teaching exactly the technical skills Maine employers are looking for because it was developed with input from major employers in the state.

Some employers said they see the academy as a way to flush out those Mainers who have the potential to take on the next generation of computer and technology jobs in the state – even though they might not know it.

“We look to hire and retain talented employees and interns who possess critical thinking skills, a burning desire to solve problems, and who will be energized working in teams on meaningful projects,” said Jim Smith, chief information officer of the Maine Office of Information Technology. “In Maine we know we have this talent just waiting for programs like the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences to help them reach their fullest potential – to be career ready.”

Stephen Crowley, senior vice president and chief information officer at WEX, said the programs are needed because there are virtually no job-seeking tech workers in Maine with the needed skills.

“Unemployment is zero,” Crowley said. “We just can’t find enough qualified people.

Clarifications – 12/29/16

“Taken together, we believe two of our Fundamentals programs will provide as much career-relevant experience as a typical first-year college student would receive in the first two courses in their major.”

“We welcome anyone, 17 and above, who is curious about the Digital Sciences to learn more about the UNE Academy.”