Albany Can Code is expanding its efforts to build digital job skills

via Albany Business Review

Albany Can Code is moving its digital literacy classes online and expanding access in upstate New York.

The workforce development effort is forming partnerships in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley in order to offer its classes through county career centers.

“The work we’re doing with the digital literacy program is specifically as a response to this unprecedented time that we’re facing in our state and country, with so many newly unemployed people,” said Annmarie Lanesey, Albany Can Code founder and CEO.

Intended for beginners with varying levels of skills, the class is meant to prepare people for employment opportunities or higher-level workforce programming courses. Depending on skill level of the students, the class addresses such topics as typing skills, productive web searching, using email tools, mobile apps, saving files to a cloud-based drive and basic coding languages.

There will be multiple 20-person classes available. The first 10-week classes for Rensselaer and Schenectady counties will start May 18, followed by Ulster County likely this summer. The nonprofit is also in discussions with Albany County.

Schenectady County residents can register by emailing schenectadysjta@dfa.state.ny.us. Rensselaer County residents can register by emailing RensselaerOneStop@capreg.org.

While virtually every industry has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, certain parts of the tech industry have been somewhat isolated from the economic shock and other companies are experiencing growth, Lanesey noted. That’s why she sees these classes as more relevant than ever.

“So what that tells me is the tech sector is the backbone of the internet, and all the applications and software being run on the internet is what’s essentially powering the work from home,” Lanesey said. “And if people don’t have the basic digital literacy skills to work, they cannot enter the emerging economy ahead.”

The digital literacy program was formed to elevate the digital skills of people from underserved backgrounds as a way to help diversify the tech industry, she said. Albany Can Code has previously offered the program through partnerships with other nonprofits in to area.

Since it began four years ago, Albany Can Code has been focused on developing talent for the tech industry. The nonprofit is launching a pilot of its services in Kingston this summer. It received $50,000 from Facebook earlier this year to help with the effort.

Depending on the direction of the pandemic in New York, the nonprofit plans on offering its summer tech training classes, such as data analytics, either fully online or in a hybrid format. Its spring workforce classes were offered online.