Comcast expands 'Grows to Code' training program

Participants in Comcast's Grows to Code program are paid full-time, at their average hourly rate, to do all of their coursework.

Comcast is expanding its “Grows to Code” program to include more frontline workers at more locations beyond Philadelphia. Launched in 2020, the Grows to Code program trains and prepares Comcast frontline workers to become software engineers. All 12 members of the 2020 class completed their course requirements and are now full-time Comcast engineers.

According to a Comcast spokesperson, the second Grows to Code program started in May 2021, and there are currently 31 Comcast employees enrolled in the program. Some of the workers are from Comcast’s Denver office and other locations in Comcast’s Central Region. This second program is training workers to become software engineers, but the company wants to expand it to include other career paths.

Comcast partnered with the non-profit LaunchCode, which works with companies to develop talent pipelines and build customized programs. With Grows to Code, participants are paid their regular full-time hourly wage to do all of their coursework as part of the 40-hour-per-week program. The training includes a bootcamp, an onboarding program and an apprenticeship and lasts six months.

“This program allowed me to combine my love for creating new things with the real-world experience I gained as a technician to serve our customers in an entirely new way,” said Shelina Watts, a former Comcast field technician who is now a full-time Comcast engineer.

As part of the training program, Watts used her coding skills to build a searchable encyclopedia of sneakers. She hopes to be able to evolve that app and use it in the field.

“Who better to build tools for our frontline employees than some of our best and brightest frontline employees,” said Rick Rioboli, EVP and chief information officer at Comcast Cable. 

Related: Charter aims to juice hiring as it works to fill 3,000 roles

The tight job market is forcing many telecom companies to get creative in their hiring processes. Charter Communications recently unveiled a new tool aimed at matching potential employees with the right role and streamlining the hiring process. Called “Spectrum Fit Finder,” Charter’s tool is designed to connect employees with the roles they are looking for and maybe even some they hadn’t considered.

Finding skilled workers is becoming an issue across nearly all areas of the telecom field. NATE, an association that represents communications infrastructure contractors, is working with technical colleges and community colleges to try to train people for different types of telecom jobs and other trade groups are also working to develop apprenticeship programs for the telecom industry workforce.