L.A. high tech expo draws hundreds of students and future coders

580 200 Ed Coghlan

Sabio's Liliana Monge and Markene Guzman from Sabio Coding Bootcamp reconnect at Friday's Expo in Pasadena

When 800 high school and community college students descended upon Pasadena for the Digital Tech and Entrepreneur Career Expo last Friday, they were able to learn more about something they already know about: technology.

“These are digital natives who have been using technology essentially their entire lives,” said Lillian Monge, co-founder of Sabio—a coding academy that trains the next generation of software engineers and full stack developers. “Tech is created by humans and these young people are learning they can be tech creators not just tech consumers.”

The event was sponsored by LA HI-TECH, the Entrepreneur Network of Los Angeles and The California Community Colleges Strong Workforce Program.

The students were exposed to the various opportunities available in the tech industry, from creative digital production to cybersecurity trends.

Anita Dharapuram is executive director of LA HI-TECH, which promotes career pathways in technology with an emphasis in IT support, software and system design and digital media arts.

“Tech jobs don’t always demand a four-year degree,” said Dharapuram. “We are exposing the students to actual skills that people need to the fill the jobs that are available.”

She pointed out that the requirements might be as simple as getting a certificate from a community college, not even demanding an AA degree.

And thanks to dual enrollment, many high school students can earn college credit while still in high school, something that Rick Hodge, the dean of career technical education at L.A. Southwest College emphasized.

“We will be following up with these students we met today as well as work to get even more businesses involved in this important work,” said Hodge.

Nine community colleges and numerous high schools provided students for the Expo. It’s a demographic that needs to understand what Sabio’s Monge emphasizes.

“High school and community college students need to know that digital skills are required to succeed in today’s economy,” said Monge.

Sabio, who places four of five of its own graduates in tech jobs, is beginning to work with high school and community colleges to make sure the courses that are offered there are relevant preparation for today’s economy.

For LA HI-TECH's Dharapuram, the proof of the success of this effort will best be gauged in the future.

When asked how to know five years from now whether or not these programs are working, Dharapuram said, “we’ll know that the gap in workforce skills is getting smaller to really show that L.A.’s technology partners are finding fewer openings and have access to a successful workforce right here in L.A.”


Ed Coghlan

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