Steve “Woz” Wozniak, cofounder of Apple Computer and inventor of the Apple II computer, announced on Friday the launch of his latest startup, Woz U.
Called a “digital institute,” the Arizona-based institution hopes to provide a quick and affordable way for people to learn new skills applicable to the realm of computer science. These skills would be invaluable to workers who wish to stay relevant and desirable in a market that’s embracing computers and robotics.
Many economists predict that robotics and artificial intelligence are poised to replace sizable chunks of the American workforce, particularly those working in low-skill jobs. Without the proper training, these predictions suggest, millions of employees could be out of a job.
Woz U was launched in an effort to give people relevant skills as a kind of insurance policy. As tech becomes even more of a dominant presence in the US economy, America’s tech sector will need more people to fill new roles. According to Wozniak, there’s a way to do that without racking up thousands in college loans.
People often are afraid to choose a technology-based career because they think they can’t do it,” he said in a statement.
In addition, Woz U will look to enter schools to encourage kids in K-12 to pursue science, tech, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM); it’ll build an accelerator program to “develop elite tech talent”; and it’ll work with companies to recruit and train new talent on-site, through Woz U programs.
Over the coming years, Woz U will set up 30 brick-and-mortar locations around the US to expand its digital institute into the physical world. The company said it will announce the specific locations within the next couple months. The accelerator school will be based out of Arizona.
Woz U couldn’t disclose exact costs for students, but a spokesperson said “cost of tuition would vary based on the students program or retraining needs.” The flexible approach comes from Wozniak’s lifelong belief that technology should be available to everyone, beginning with Apple’s earliest computers, which his cofounder Steve Jobs believed should be sold, not given away.