Monday, October 01, 2018

Startup trains Kentuckians for coding jobs, thanks to bipartisan cooperation, which professor says is needed

Matthew Watson designs cell-phone applications.
With the coal industry fading in Appalachia, it can be difficult for people to find good jobs, but a Louisville tech start-up called Interapt is trying to change that by training rural residents to code. Support for Interapt and similar efforts will require bipartisan cooperation to secure funding, Arlie Hochschild writes for The New York Times.

Hochschild is a sociology professor at the University of California at Berkeley. She writes of success stories: Matthew Watson, 33, of Hueysville, Ky., signed up for the company's 24-week course and eight-week apprenticeship after hearing a radio ad. He had two associate's degrees at the time, but said the best job he could find was selling cigarettes for $10 an hour in Hazard, 45 minutes away from home. Within a year of starting Interapt's course, he landed a work-at-home job as a software engineer for a Florida-based company for more than $50,000 a year.

Interapt is the brainchild of Owensboro, Ky., native Ankur Gopal, and got off the ground after he and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky's Fifth District persuaded the Appalachian Regional Commission to provide $2.7 million in funding. "With millions of U.S. tech jobs out there, we could help transform Eastern Kentucky," Gopal told Hochschild.

Izaak Pratts of Interapt works with students in Glasgow, Ky.
(New York Times photos by Mike Bellune)
"Gopal is at the forefront of a new movement to bring money and jobs from the coastal capitals of high tech to a discouraged, outsource-whipped Middle America," Hochschild writes. "But continuing to increase access to good jobs in Middle America will take deliberate efforts to cooperate across the bitter political and regional divide. President Trump is not helping by proposing cuts in education funding that will raise the cost of student loans by more than $200 billion over the next decade," and tried to cut all the funding of the Appalachian commission.

Rogers, a Republican, found an ally in Rep. Ro Khanna, the California Democrat whose district includes Apple, Intel, LinkedIn and Yahoo. He asks, “Why outsource coding jobs to Bangalore when we can insource jobs to Eastern Kentucky, poor in jobs but rich in work ethic, and every one I.T. job brings four or five other jobs with it?”


Unknown said...

Just a heads up...Arlie Hochschild is a woman.

Heather Chapman said...

Thanks for the heads up; we have corrected the error.