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Hiring managers join forces to try to fill the void of tech job applicants in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- New tech jobs are being created daily in Kansas City, but local companies are having trouble finding qualified talent to fill them.

KC Tech Council reports 3000 tech jobs went unfilled in June.

Former barista Jude McCulley, 37, dropped out of his master`s program in anthropology when he found himself spending more time messing around with coding and website development.

"I decided if I have these skills, I should get a job because I was still working at Starbucks at the time," McCulley said.

Andrea Johnson is a year out of college where she studied violin and English.

"Never thought for whatever reason I could do it as a career. I think that computer science degree felt like it was a barrier to me, and it wasn`t something I was interested in majoring in college," she said.

Both are now apprentices doing tech development work at the marketing firm VMLY&R in Kansas City.

The fact neither followed a conventional path isn't a problem. Right now there a five times as many jobs available as there are people with computer science degrees.

"Tech talent is really hard to find in Kansas City -- and nationwide," said Jessica Eggers, NBKC's chief people officer.

With tech jobs taking 70 days to fill on average, hiring managers at Kansas City firms came together Wednesday evening to share strategies.

"We consistently look at other places as far as talent pools to look in, whether it`s employee referrals, universities or groups such as Launch Code," Eggers said.

Launch Code is a free 22-week boot camp that teaches willing workers the tech skills they'll need and then connects them with 500 partner employers. Both Johnson and McCulley went through the program.

"Every company, whether you are big or small, needs some people at least some of the time to do computer work for them," McCulley said.

"It`s cool being in the Silicon Prairie because we aren't one of the big shiny tech beacon cities like Austin, Boston or Portland, which means that there is more room for people that are up and coming to get jobs right off the bat," Johnson said.

Launch Code reports software developers are the most sought after employees.

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