(KMOV.com) – A local volunteer effort aimed at teaching programming skills to St. Louis-area residents is holding its inaugural free class Monday night, and more than 1,000 people have registered to attend.
LaunchCode, which aims to increase the region’s development talent base, will kick off the four-month class at the Peabody Opera House. Future classes will be held at the Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Libray and those who complete the course will have qualifications to receive an apprenticeship and job placement through Launchcode.
Founder Jim McKelvey will talk to students during the first class about the opportunities ahead of them.
”There’s a talent shortage worldwide, but nationwide and certainly in St. Louis, we don’t have enough programmers to fill all the positions,” Jim McKelvey, who also co-founded mobile payment company Square, told News 4’s Diana Zoga last September.
“I think the average person can learn to program. It’s tedious. It’s not terribly fun at the beginning, but once you start getting some success it becomes really interesting. Some of the best programmers don’t have four year degrees,” said McKelvey.
More than 100 companies – including MasterCard and Express Scripts - have partnered with LaunchCode, according to McKelvey.
To increase the number of qualified applicants, LaunchCode has partnered with edX - the not-for-profit founded by MIT and Harvard University - to provide the free programming course.
“The big picture is to change the entire ecosystem in St. Louis from one where we have a deficit of talent to one where we have a surplus. Once we have a surplus of talent, I know companies right now in Silicon Valley that would move out here and take a thousand programmers if we had the ecosystem,” McKelvey told Zoga.