Cortex is committed to establishing St. Louis as the premier hub in the Midwest for training and job placement of nontraditional, untapped talent in high-demand fields. Our Workforce Systems department works with a variety of ecosystem partners, including employers, institutional partners, and training providers, to develop and implement programs and services that help Missourians from all backgrounds prepare for, find, and retain quality jobs.





Our Approach: Building a Resilient and Connected Workforce Ecosystem


At Cortex, we're dedicated to cultivating a resilient, connected, and community-focused workforce ecosystem to drive statewide and regional growth. 


Empowering Through Alternative Skilling Pathways


We offer in-demand workforce training programs designed to equip learners with the most sought-after skills in today's job market.


Tailored Training with Employer Partner Programs


We develop customized training programs in collaboration with businesses, ensuring workforce readiness and job market alignment.


Unlocking Opportunities with Apprenticeship Programs


Our "Earn and Learn" apprenticeship model combines on-the-job training with academics, equipping participants with practical skills for immediate success.


Impacting Through Public-Private Partnerships


We aim to build strong partnerships among academic institutions, employers, learners, and government to create a unified workforce ecosystem for widespread impact and prosperity in our state and region.




Our Program 



The Missouri Tech First, powered by Cortex Initiative




Cortex, backed by a $7M investment from the State of Missouri, is bridging the skills gap while providing pathways into tech careers for underrepresented communities across the state.

With strategic partnerships at local, state, and national levels, we're preparing tomorrow’s IT, cybersecurity, and coding experts to ensure Missouri attracts and retains high-growth companies. The initiative acknowledges various paths to success beyond a four-year degree.


Key Benefits:


  • Free, short-term training (15-23 weeks)
  • Wrap-around support services
  • Apprenticeship opportunities and mentoring
  • Industry-recognized credentials
  • On-the-job support for up to two years


Why Now?


The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry's 2030 Technology Report projects the tech sector to grow by 25% in the next decade, while noting a significant shortage of skilled workers. To tackle unemployment and underemployment while addressing talent shortages, Missouri Tech First is a collaborative approach to training and placing hundreds in high-growth tech careers.








Training Available through Cortex Partners





Validate your IT knowledge and skills with industry-recognized CompTIA certifications. Exams are available year-round, allowing you to test on your schedule. Visit CompTIA's website to learn more about our free A+ Certification opportunity.









Veterans and young adults from underserved communities can gain valuable IT skills and certifications, paving the way for a successful tech career. Upcoming cohorts typically start in Spring, Summer, and Fall.








A gateway to career growth, offering professional development and soft skills training to help you succeed in today's job market.








Aspiring cybersecurity professionals can develop critical skills and industry-recognized certifications to combat evolving cyber threats. New courses typically begin every quarter. Explore CyberUp's website to learn more: 






Per Scholas:

Overcome barriers to employment and gain the IT skills you need for a successful career. Per Scholas offers tuition-free training with career support. New classes typically begin every month or quarter. Explore Per Scholas programs:









LaunchCode's immersive bootcamps equip individuals with the skills needed to launch careers in software development. Information sessions are held monthly, with new bootcamps starting bimonthly. Find your LaunchCode starting point:





Savvy Coders: 

Sharpen your coding skills with Savvy Coders' dynamic workshops and bootcamps. Learn in-demand programming languages and techniques offered weekly or monthly. Explore Savvy Coders' workshop calendar:









Singularity University:

Singularity University offers an in-depth exploration of exponential technologies, focusing on artificial intelligence and its impact on business, society, and innovation as we know it. Get started learning more about the next wave of innovation.











Join the Missouri Tech First HIRENOW Campaign



The HIRENOW Initiative is a bold move to redefine talent acquisition in the tech and cybersecurity sectors. It urges employers to embrace a wider, more diverse talent pool, unlocking access to skilled nontraditional candidates ready to drive diversity and innovation in your organization. The initiative helps bridge the gap between employer needs and nontraditional candidates. Step into the future of hiring with HIRENOW and champion a more inclusive approach to building your workforce.



Get Involved!



Ready to make a difference? Click the link below and be a part of the HIRENOW Campaign today!








Our Impact at a Glance



Increased Training Accessibility

More than 467 individuals already have been trained, with projections to reach 700+ by June 2024. This demonstrates a commitment to making tech education accessible to a wider audience.



Expanding Employer Partnerships

Partnerships with Singularity and ongoing discussions with NVIDIA showcase efforts to create new pathways for graduates into full-time roles through internships and apprenticeships



Breaking Barriers in Tech Talent

The program shatters stereotypes by serving a diverse population spanning generations (18-60 years old), educational backgrounds (high school diploma to Master's degrees), and races (45-77% Black/African American across partners), with strong participation from both genders and veterans.






Endorsements from Legislative and Industry Leaders


“St. Louis alone currently has more than 7,000 open cybersecurity positions, and only 11% of the Metro area’s current tech workforce is Black or Hispanic. This project will help provide women and minorities tuition-free training and the industry-recognized credentials needed to fill high-paying, in-demand jobs.”


[Sen. Brian Williams (D-14, MO)]





“One of Missouri’s strongest opportunities to grow its economy will come by leveraging the potential of our technology and innovation industries. We are proud to partner with Cortex to train Missourians for high-demand tech occupations across the state.”


[Dan Mehan, President of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry]




Success Stories: Breaking Barriers in Tech Talent

Victoria’s Story


From Underemployed to Software Engineer

"One of our success stories comes from a learner named Victoria. She changed her career path through the Missouri Tech First Initiative. When Victoria started LaunchCode Part-Time Web Dev training in January 2023, she was working as a support technician for Apple, after a series of lower-wage positions in technical support, customer support and patient care. Upon enrolling in our courses, she was making less than $30,000 annually, and was struggling to find jobs that pay more with her Associate’s degree in business administration.


After completing the course in August 2023, she began working as a part-time teaching assistant for LaunchCode to add to her overall income while still working in technical support at Apple. In February, Victoria was hired as a full-time Software Engineer Associate for Accenture Federal Services, nearly doubling her previous salary."

Charles Long Jr.


From Janitor to Associate IT Engineer

Charles started CyberUp training while working a janitorial job at a local casino. After completing the program, he began working as an Associate IT Engineer, leveraging his newly acquired skills in cybersecurity.


Charles now plans to continue his educational journey, aiming for roles like a forensic analyst or even testifying in court as a cybersecurity expert. His story serves as a testament to the transformative impact of accessible education and training, showing that with the right guidance and determination, anyone can achieve their career goals.

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Partners Featured in the Work



Contact Us


Kieran N. Blanks, MBA.

VP Workforce Systems, Cortex