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A strategy to help underserved communities and fill technology jobs

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The nonprofit DevOps Academy takes an educational approach to opening up career opportunities to underserved people and meeting the continued demand for IT staff.

Sheldon Gilbert, Kura Labs

Organizations keen to strengthen their IT ranks might find some of the talent they need from job seekers from underserved segments of the population.

According to Sheldon Gilbert, founder of the nonprofit DevOps Infrastructure Computer Training Academy and Kura Labs Infrastructure Computer Training Academy, creating more opportunities for diverse people to learn technology skills. research can be a game-changer for communities and organizations. With a program first launched in 2020, Kura Labs offers free training and placement to selected candidates who wish to pursue potentially high-paying careers, including site reliability engineering, DevOps, and the cloud. Google Cloud, Nasdaq, and JPMorgan are among the academy’s business partners. Kura Labs donors include Silicon Valley Bank and Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Kura Labs aims to help students build long-term careers with forward-looking and interdisciplinary approaches to develop and oversee technology ecosystems. “When people hire engineers, they also want to know what the latest versions of open source technologies are that they are already aware of,” Gilbert says. Training tracks at the academy include Linux, Python, networking, server configurations, virtualization, containerization, Docker, Kubernetes, as well as infrastructure as code, he says. “We also have network surveillance and security. I have also added a new track in the last four weeks around the deployment of decentralized applications.

Gilbert launched Kura Labs to help better bridge the workforce gap for staff familiar with DevOps, SecOps, and other infrastructure elements, while creating opportunities that can bridge the digital divide that continues to leave some communities behind, even in the age of transformation.

In his other role as CEO of Proclivity Systems, Gilbert says it has proven difficult to find potential recruits with much-needed software and hardware expertise. “We had to go there to find a DevOps engineer, a cloud operations engineer,” he says. In a process that Gilbert describes as maddening, it took around 18-24 months to find the talent they needed. Additionally, he felt that a change was underway that amalgamated the hardware and software engineering paradigms in infrastructure computing and DevOps.

“I’ve seen this massive workforce imbalance,” says Gilbert. “All of these companies were crying out loud for engineers to move to the cloud and stay in the cloud. This meant that engineers became mission-critical for organizations, he said, rather than existing on the periphery. Companies were looking for engineers who could wire infrastructure remotely, build an automated CI / CD pipeline, and understand framework layers.

Such roles, Gilbert says, require skills beyond graphic design, HTML, and CSS with salaries commensurate with their expertise. Graduates of the academy’s first cohort found jobs that pay more than $ 90,000 to start, he says. “For the communities they come from, this is a giant leap forward. You say they make more money now than double the wages of both parents in the household, ”says Gilbert. “It really is a question of civil rights in many ways. It is about real income equality and income mobility.

He says the career tracks the academy is putting its graduates on could, within a year or two, lead to salaries ranging from $ 150,000 to $ 200,000. “We put our students on the path to becoming engineering managers, product managers, IT directors, technical directors, CEOs and future entrepreneurs,” says Gilbert.

Kura Labs is a six-month online training program with tuition fully covered by foundation funding. About 20 students made up the first cohort in 2020. “This year, we’re starting with 30,” he says. Applicants to the program should come from a variety of backgrounds, which can help partner employers hiring at the academy improve their diversity recruiting efforts. Prior computer training is not required to be a candidate for the academy.

Gilbert sees Kura Labs as part of a solution to meet the overwhelming demand to support digital infrastructure with working technology background, as well as the need for plumbers, mechanics and electricians for physical infrastructure. “We need professional academies for the 21st century, ”he said. “We need people specialized in cybersecurity; you don’t have to go to college for that.

Many organizations face a similar dilemma, he says. “Every business tries to figure out how to cut costs and maximize profits,” says Gilbert. “Profit maximization is increasingly digitized. This requires an elastic IT framework tied to the cloud, which can be cloud native, hybrid or shared. “Everyone needs a mechanism to make their IT costs more variable than fixed,” he says. Gilbert offers DevOps, cloud maintenance, and other Kura Labs training to meet this need.

Associated content:

Corporate diversity efforts become real

Transformation, disruption and gender diversity in technology

How scholarships can support diversity and inclusion in tech

Joao-Pierre S. Ruth has spent his career in business and tech journalism, first covering local industries in New Jersey, then as New York editor-in-chief of Xconomy, exploring the city’s tech startup community. , then as a freelance writer for media such as. .. See the full biography

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