Skill Distillery IT bootcamp is first to accept VA funding

Denver's Skill Distillery, a 19-week Java-programming bootcamp, is the first in the U.S. to accept the GI Bill to fund veterans' enrollment in the program. Last week the company announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs gave veterans the ability to use their GI Bill education benefits at Batky-Howell's Skill Distillery -- it's a first for the agency.

"There's a massive developer shortage in the U.S., around 500,000 open positions," contends Cole Frock, director of education at Skill Distillery. "It puts companies into unique situations. They want their employees to have the most current training." To fill those positions requires a new kind of educational program, he says.

The Skill Distillery program also is part of the White House's recently launched TechHire initiative, which aims to help fill these positions. The program spans 20 cities and 300 companies or organizations across the U.S.

It's an ideal program for veterans transitioning back to civilian life and looking to train for a new profession. The jobs, according to Cole, start at about $65,000 and are some of the highest paying opportunities for those coming out of the military. "Defense contractors need veterans who can program. They need employees with top secret clearance, or the ability to get it."

While a lot of tech programs focus on Ruby on Rails and other more modern programming languages, Skill Distillery is teaching tried and true Java. "Java most sought after skill," Cole explains. Yet not many schools or bootcamps focus on it. "We're the only school that does Java in the state. There are only two in the country."

Skill Distillery launched its Java classes this year. The second class will start July 6. "It looks like it will be a full class," Cole says. Right now the company can train up to 15 people per class.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at

Read more articles by Chris Meehan.

Chris is a Denver-based freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. He covers sustainability, social issues and other topics.
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