In business, we love our 20-somethings. They bring energy and perspective that is rejuvenating the workplace. One thing they often don’t come with, though, is skill. A recent story in The New York Times cited an Organisation for Economic Cooperation report detailing a widening skills gap that acts as a drag on the American economy.

Particularly, the report noted that American students lag behind most other nations in math skills: Only children from Italy and Spain performed worse in the evaluation.

So, the opening of the Academy of for Software Engineering in New York City is welcome news. The idea is to offer students interested in computer science and software engineering a school where they can get an introduction to the basics while working on projects and landing internships at major technology companies.

Even overlooking the selfish underlying reason (New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to develop developers who will someday help the city grow out its vision of “Silicon Alley,” gaining reputation in the industry and tax revenue in the treasury), this is an effort long overdue. The school, the city, universities and software companies are partnering to make this happen—a rare bit of cooperation among entities whose interests are often at odds.

As for the students we spoke to for our cover story, they have big dreams, from creating their own gaming companies to creating the next generation of fighter jets and spacecraft. The academy and others like it around the country give them a jumpstart down that path.

(Educating the new class of developers)

One key point made in our story is that students do not have to pass an entrance exam or be selected to attend the school. It’s open to all New York City students with an interest in computer science, and as such is creating a diverse learning environment—just the ticket for taking software engineering in directions we haven’t even thought of yet.