Its educational partner is a college-alternative start-up, the Holberton School. Founded in 2015 in San Francisco, Holberton offers a two-year program to create software engineers. Its graduates now work for companies like Apple, IBM, Dropbox and Tesla. The school charges no tuition, but graduates who get jobs pay the school 17 percent of their salaries for three years.
After the Connecticut announcement, I caught up with Holberton’s founders, Julien Barbier and Sylvain Kalache, both alumni of Silicon Valley companies. Their school is designed around projects and peer learning with mentors, but no formal teachers.
Technical skills are only part of the program. Writing white papers, project reviews and public speaking are also emphasized. Critical thinking, teamwork and learning to learn are the higher-order skills.
Technology changes too fast, Mr. Barbier said, for expertise in a particular set of software tools to be a lasting asset in the labor market.
“In two years, you do learn a craft that is in demand,” said Mr. Barbier, Holberton’s chief executive. “But this is really about self-learning. If you can train yourself, you’re never going to obsolete.”
In San Francisco, Holberton has enrolled a total of 300 students since it opened its doors two years ago and, with added space, hopes to bring in 1,000 students a year before long. At the New Haven school, which begins next year, Holberton plans to start with 30 to 50 students and then expand rapidly.
Its model has made encouraging progress. But the big question for all the experiments intended to prepare people for the future of work is whether anything can scale up to the size of the challenge that America faces.