Code the Classic connects Birmingham-area companies with talent from HBCUs

Code the Classic connects Birmingham-area companies with talent from HBCUs
Dozens of companies and more than 100 HBCU students participated in the Code the Classic career fair and pitch competition at Innovation Depot. (Brittany Dunn / Alabama NewsCenter)

More than 100 students and dozens of companies came together Friday for Code the Classic, an initiative designed to link area employers with diverse talent from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) hosted the sixth annual event that coincides with the Magic City Classic football game between Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University. The event took place at Innovation Depot, the highly regarded business incubator and coworking space in downtown Birmingham.

“Over the next 10 years, Birmingham is expected to have six times as many job openings in computer science and engineering-related positions that require a bachelor’s degree than we have candidates to fill those roles,” said Waymond Jackson, BBA senior vice president of public policy.

Code the Classic brings together HBCU talent and Birmingham companies from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“This event helps connect companies needing to fill their talent pipeline with students across the state who could be a great fit for the role. Opportunities like this serve as a good first step towards increasing local companies’ access to talent and provides college talent a fresh look at Birmingham,” Jackson said.

The event included the Code the Classic Tech Career Expo, with companies looking to recruit developers, programmers, IT project managers, analysts, graphic designers and engineers, as well as professionals interested in accelerated tech training and coding bootcamps.

“Alabama institutions produce world-class talent, and we are excited to expose future graduates to the potential of careers in technology right here in the Magic City,” said Katie Inabinet, senior recruiter at Shipt, one of the participating companies. “We are proud to sponsor this wonderful event again this year.”

During the gathering, Alabama State and Alabama A&M faced off in an innovation pitch, which was followed by a leadership roundtable with business and government leaders, including U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and Vulcan Materials Co. CEO Thomas Hill.

A student debate and immersive networking studio, facilitated by The YARD, a new HBCU platform that funds student ideas and collaboration with industry leaders and communities. The YARD launched at the U.S. Conference of Mayors with a $1 million commitment from founding partner Vulcan Materials to fund scholarships, internships and grants to HBCUs.

“The Magic City Classic is the epicenter for tech, talent and culture in the Southeast and provides us with the perfect opportunity to connect our HBCU talent with prospective employers,” said Erskine Chuck Faush, CEO and cofounder of The YARD. “We have industry leaders from today’s top companies joining us for this special event because they believe in the value of diversity and inclusion and see opportunities for investment to build more sustainable career pipelines and drive positive economic impact. We hope that employers will join us by investing in tomorrow’s generation today.”

In addition to The YARD, partners for Code the Classic include Innovate Birmingham and TechBirmingham.

“The BBA has been instrumental in reimagining our regional workforce development efforts, and Code the Classic is another example of their commitment to work,” said Deon Gordon, president and CEO of TechBirmingham. “As the regional tech council, we’re excited to join them in this effort to lift up our vital HBCU institutions and students to better connect them to local employers. The more diverse our talent pipeline, the more resilient and robust our tech economy will be as well.”

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