Louisville ramps up efforts to increase training, preparedness in technology

Greg Fischer speaks at LouieLab

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced Monday that Louisville was starting an initiative to strengthen the city’s tech sector. | Photo by Jeremy Chisenhall

After failing in its efforts to attract Amazon to the city, Louisville hopes it has found a long-term solution to a technology shortage.

The city is looking to produce five times the number of its projected technology jobs over the next few years, and Mayor Greg Fischer announced a plan to do that on Monday, as he presented a new initiative called “LouTechWorks.”

LouTechWorks will look to rapidly boost efforts to expand technology talent in Louisville through education and partnerships with nonprofits and employers, officials said. The hope is to address the technology shortage by educating students to prepare them for newly opened job opportunities in Louisville.

“To compete — and win — in the economy of the future, Louisville must greatly expand the number of technology jobs and radically scale our training platform, in partnership with employers, education partners and others,” Fischer said.

Louisville has about 79% of the technology jobs it should have for its size, according to a news release from the mayor’s office. The effort to produce five times as many of those jobs would get the city to 100% of the jobs needed, the office said.

Kent Oyler, the president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., has previously stressed the importance of technology development in Louisville in a guest commentary for Louisville Business First. Oyler said that Louisville didn’t contend with other cities to be the site of Amazon’s “HQ2” because there wasn’t enough of a focus on tech jobs.

“When Amazon provided its feedback on why Louisville didn’t make the list, they gave only one reason: our workforce, and specifically, the small number of people working in technology jobs,” Oyler wrote.

“The lesson here? If we wish to attract fast-growing tech companies like Amazon or Facebook or Google to Louisville, and if we want to keep the tech companies we already have, we must become a tech town full of technology workers ready to do the jobs of the future.”

This initiative comes with specific commitments from the city’s partners who will look to use education to address the technology shortage.

Jefferson County Public Schools

  • Commitment to teaching digital literacy to all K-12 students, which will include specific benchmarks and partnerships for the elementary, middle and high school levels.
  • Elementary schools will look to work with code.org through a $4 million grant, but funding has not yet been secured for that grant.
  • High schools will also work to ensure that students have career pathways in technology fields.

“We really want to move past just digital literacy,” said Christy Rogers, the assistant superintendent of transition readiness for JCPS. “The buzzword for us is ‘digitally agile.’ We want our students to be handed any device, or any software platform and be agile enough to perform for our companies and our industries to meet the needs of our city.”

Jefferson Community and Technical College

  • Pledged to expand enrollment in the associate of applied science in computer and information technology degree program.
  • Expand technology-related certification programs.

“Community and technical colleges are oftentimes forgotten in this mix,” said Ty Handy, president and CEO of JCTC. “And yet, in information technology, they play a key role in preparing workers for the entry-level positions that they’re going to be getting.

Ivy Tech Community College

  • Pledged to increase the number of its job-ready degrees and certificates through the School of Information Technology.
  • Launch an active esports team/group (competitive video gaming) that would potentially offer scholarships.

Bellarmine University

  • Pledged to expand enrollment in computer science, math and actuarial science programs.
  • Launch new degree and certificate tracks in those fields.

Indiana University Southeast

  • Pledged to increase enrollment in computer science.
  • Create an esports team with scholarship opportunities.
  • Secure funding for the information systems management master’s degree.

University of Kentucky

  • Increase enrollment in the College of Engineering.
  • Create a new data science and biomedical informatics graduate degree program.

University of Louisville

  • Expand enrollment in computer science and engineering, computer information systems, and health data analytics degree programs.
  • Create new graduate and undergraduate degree programs in computer science, data science, business analytics and social data analysis.
  • Create new minors in computer science, social data analytics and data science.
  • Expand enrollment in the instructional technology degree program and online teaching endorsement.

“The University of Louisville is fully committed to this effort to grow our tech talent pipeline to meet the rapidly increasing regional and global workforce demand,” UofL President Neeli Bendapudi said in a statement.