CodingSolutions: Developing Alabama’s tech talent

It’s no secret the economy has shifted towards a more technology driven market. The state of Alabama for example had over 3,000 unfulfilled computing jobs in 2017. The challenge the state and its cities face is similar to many cities across the country: tech talent is hard to find. Even a city like Austin struggles to fill their growing number of tech jobs. What’s just as difficult is getting that tech talent to stay in their respective state. The Joint Economic Committee in Congress investigated this issue and released a report in April about this challenge. Alabama ranked 12th in gross brain drain (people moving out of the state in their 30s), validating the challenge it faces.

Addressing brain drain

Like any problem, brain drain will require multiple approaches to address the problem, however, Rod Frazer knew he would be one of those solutions. Growing up in Alabama, he spent years watching the changing landscape and recognized the obvious growing talent gap Alabama was experiencing. Already an entrepreneur, successful executive, and veteran, Rod started work on CodingSolutions, a program designed to retain tech talent in Alabama. Rod approached Birmingham tech entrepreneur Taylor Peake and MotionMobs to gauge whether she’d be interested. As a result, they were able to collaborate on the curriculum and build a web app for the program to offer a comprehensive job readiness program for recent grads in the state and connect them with top innovative companies.

“It is my belief that coding is our link to the future. Currently, numbers reflect that thousands of jobs remain unfilled throughout our state because of the lack of trained developers. Alabama has the talent and the jobs; we hope to facilitate matching those two features and keep our talent here at home in Alabama,” Frazer said.

Leading by example

Peake is an example of the impact these candidates can make if they stay in Alabama. MotionMobs was founded in 2010, but how the company got started is tale a few have heard. The company’s first client was Weebly, who contracted Peake and her co-founder to build a prototype for their mobile app. Peake had the opportunity to leave Alabama and join the tech ecosystem in the Bay Area, which has dominated the country, but Birmingham is fortunate she stayed. Peake is heavily involved in the Birmingham community between board seats, judging pitch competitions, or mentoring entrepreneurs.

Opportunity on the horizon

Frazer and Peake have come together to address this issue despite being from two very different generations. They recognize the opportunity the state of Alabama has when it can address brain drain and start building its own tech ecosystem. Of course, it also speaks to their ability as entrepreneurs, assessing a clear hiring problem everyone has and delivering a solution. 

CodingSolutions is still a new startup, but building its connections thanks to Frazer, Peake, and Jasmine Dickerson, the program’s Community Director. As more applicants finish the program, they’ll have their own network which will further retain talent and could lead to them developing their own companies. The program will be launching its third cohort this fall.

Following CodingSolutions

Curious about CodingSolutions? Listen to an interview with Peake to find out more about how she got involved and where she sees the program headed. For all updates for the program, check out the CodingSolutions site or throw them a follow on Facebook or Twitter.

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