South Carolina residents interested in learning to code can take courses for free through a new statewide program, five officials said during a news conference at Blackbaud on Wednesday.
SC Codes is a state-funded, online coding curriculum that residents can access through a web platform. Any resident with access to a computer and the internet can take courses; both beginner and advanced curriculum is available.
Residents can log on to the platform with their laptops at home, or at various public sites equipped with computers, such as libraries or schools. Classroom-led training will also be offered at 16 sites around the state.
The online education will be paired with mentoring services from tech professionals and programmers around the state; mentoring could be in person or via video conferencing.
“The intention behind SC Codes is to provide access to valuable education and training for anyone in South Carolina, whether they’re new to programming or wanting to skill up,” said Lelia King, executive director of Build Carolina.
SC Codes is a partnership between the S.C. Commerce Department’s Office of Innovation and Build Carolina, a Greenville-based nonprofit focused on training workers. Those entities are funding the program over the next three years.
The leaders behind SC Codes want to provide more South Carolinians access to computer programming to both gauge interest and ability, and to hopefully create a new pipeline of tech workers in an industry that needs more local talent, the speakers said.
The SC Codes training provides a baseline for workers to determine if they want to pursue careers in the state’s growing tech sector, said Jennifer Fletcher, the S.C. Commerce Department’s deputy secretary.
Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group and an education advocate, said that the state has a critical need for more tech talent and that the program creates a path toward a career in the field.
Kevin McDearis, Blackbaud’s executive vice president and chief product officer, said learning to code teaches people to think critically, problem solve and collaborate.
The SC Codes program is also a step toward breaking down some barriers to entry, such as cost-prohibitive coding schools, and potentially tackling the lack of diversity in many S.C. tech firms by expanding access to education, said Nina Magnesson, the executive director of Charleston Women in Tech.
Magnesson stressed the importance of making it easier for anyone to access coding education, similar to CodeOn, a Charleston program that teaches coding to kids in disadvantaged communities.
Read more in the April 29 print edition of the Charleston Regional Business Journal.