Preparing the workforce of the future

AT&T is moving to a software-defined, mobile-first environment. So the need to give our employees the skills to succeed … and to help us succeed … has never been more critical. But we also see a broader need to prepare students and those already in the workforce — no matter where they work — for success in the 21st century.

That’s why in 2013, AT&T, Georgia Tech and Udacity teamed up to launch the first-ever massive open online course (MOOC) accredited degree program, offering a Master of Science in Computer Science. With more than 2,200 students currently enrolled, the OMS CS program has been a huge success.

Now we’ve expanded our work with Udacity to offer Nanodegree credentials via the online format.

Nanodegree courses provide specific skills that prepare students and managers for a range of entry-level tech jobs. They cost less and take less time than traditional degrees, making education more accessible and affordable. And they expand the talent pipeline to address the shortage of current and future employees with technology skills. Today, students can earn Nanodegree credentials in front-end Web development, data analysis, full stack Web development, iOS development and introduction to programming.

We’ve invested $1.5 million to launch the Nanodegree program and are covering tuition for AT&T managers. And with Udacity, we’re awarding scholarships to 1,200 students who are underserved. We’ll recognize Nanodegree credentials for a range of our software jobs, and we plan to offer internships to as many as 100 high-performing graduates. The Nanodegree program is part of our larger award-winning training efforts. Our investment is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s commitment to prepare students for success in school and 21st century careers.

Chandria Wilhoit trains AT&T retail managers and is pursuing a Nanodegree credential in front-end Web development. “It’s a lot of hard work, but the new skills I’m gaining will prepare me to take on new roles and challenges within AT&T,” she says.

Meanwhile, Kimberly Cosby James is also working toward a Nanodegree credential in Web development. Kimberly works mornings in a warehouse and spends her afternoons at the Atlanta branch of Year Up, which is dedicated to bridging the opportunity divide for young adults. Through Year Up, Kimberly received an AT&T scholarship to enroll in the Nanodegree program.

“As a wife and mom, I need skills to pursue better career opportunities. The Nanodegree is perfect for someone who’s starting from scratch, and I love that I can get help from my mentor or more experienced students when I get stuck on a question.” – Kimberly Cosby James, Nanodegree student

Our investment in Nanodegree programs is helping us recruit new talent, while also giving our existing employees the specific, essential skill sets they need to support our customers today and in the future.