He played a critical part in shaping the modern computing industry as co-founder of Apple and inventor of Apple II, and now Steve Wozniak is looking to define its future.
The revered philanthropist and entrepreneur, known for championing the value of humanity in technology, has announced the formation of Woz U, a tech-oriented digital institute designed to address the burgeoning skill and employment gaps in STEAM fields.
“Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt”, explains Wozniak. “People often are afraid to choose a technology-based career because they think they can’t do it. I know they can, and I want to show them how.”
For those unsure of where to start, the Woz U Mobile App features an aptitude test that highlights what their interests and skill sets make them suitable for. Complex and relevant, the test is sure to instill some courage in those interested in the industry, but fear themselves ill-suited for it.
From there, prospective students can sign up to one of two courses currently available – full-stack software development, or computer support. More courses, including cyber security and data science, will go live within the next year.
At present, Woz U is completely digital, but Wozniak has declared intent to establish 30 schools around the world.
It’s not just those looking to enter the workforce that Woz U will cater for, and that is perhaps what makes the institution such a critical player in the future of work. Woz U Education is set to provide K-12 career-based programs to ensure younger students are being taught current and valued skills by experienced professionals. There’s also Woz U Enterprise, which will provide customised programs to businesses to meet their specific needs.
The initiative couldn’t come at a more urgent time. A study by New American Economy released earlier this year found that in 2016, 13 STEM jobs were posted online per every one unemployed STEM worker. While that figure was down from the previous year, the gap remains substantial.
It’s institutions like Woz U that will play a key role in bridging that gap, and with the Wonderful Wizard of Woz leading the way, the future looks a little less daunting.
“My entire life I have worked to build, develop, and create a better world through technology, and I have always respected education. Now is the time for Woz U, and we are only getting started.”