Whatcom Community College (WCC) in partnership with the Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington (TAG) and building on Whatcom Community College’s (WCC) existing strengths in information technology, WCC intends to develop a new career connected learning opportunity leading to an associate degree in software development. The targeted launch for the program will be fall 2021 and capacity for 24 students.
In close collaboration with the technology community, this degree will help address the growing gap in Washington state for skilled software developers: “There are more projected annual openings for computer scientists than there are graduates in our state prepared to fill these jobs. The gap has been growing since 2006. In the 2016 skilled and educated workforce report there were 3,900 more projected to be openings for computer scientists than prepared graduates to take those jobs.” To meet employer demand, more women and other under-represented populations will need to enter training programs. Though open to all students, this degree will specifically offer these populations a pathway to this high demand / high wage career field.
While graduates will address workforce needs in Whatcom county (entry-level wages $25.07 – $35.72 per hour; 10th and 25th percentiles), since technology-based careers generally lend themselves well to remote working, graduates may also find opportunities statewide ($38.87 – $50.87), without having to move.
TAG will convene industry representatives to help shape program outcomes and paid work-based learning opportunities. Based on this input, WCC’s computer science faculty will develop the degree template and course curriculum. WCC’s cooperative education coordinator will work further with employers to develop and facilitate on-the-job experience aligned with classroom instruction.