By Colleen Attwell
Senior Director, IT-Ready Network
At Creating IT Futures, we’ve seen firsthand how people’s lives can change — for good — when they’re just given an opportunity.
Take Marianne Linardos, for example. Marianne was working in a fast-food restaurant when she learned about IT-Ready, Creating IT Future’s free IT career-training program. Within months of graduating, Marianne was working full-time, earning a living wage, and buying a much-needed car.
Or Russell Prochaska. Working in a retail computer store, Russell had a strong understanding of technology. But when he tried to transition his tech skills to a more corporate environment, he was told he was unqualified because he had no degree or certifications. IT-Ready helped Russell get certified, and today he works full-time as an IT analyst for a hospital system.
And Cheryl Morelli, who waited tables in a pizza restaurant for 10 years before she enrolled in IT-Ready. She’s now working full-time providing IT support for a global supplier of food, facilities management and uniforms.
Good people, all — and hard workers who just needed the right opportunity.
Now Creating IT Futures is participating in a new federal effort to extend similar opportunities to good, hard-working people living in government housing.
The program is being spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy. Called SEED — short for STEM, Energy and Economic Development: Coalitions for Community Growth — this place-based initiative will connect public-housing residents across the United States with purposeful STEM-related education and training that leads to upwardly mobile jobs and long-term economic growth.
The initiative is being considered for five communities: Cleveland, Denver, San Antonio, Tampa and Washington, D.C. Creating IT Futures would work with government officials to bring IT-Ready to low-income residents.
We believe the IT-Ready model is a great fit for this initiative.
IT-Ready provides eight weeks of classroom-based IT training free of charge to students. Since IT-Ready’s start, our target audiences have been unemployed, under-employed and displaced workers; women and ethnic minorities; and veterans and their spouses or caregivers.
Students in IT-Ready learn skills such as how to build a computer from parts, install software, set up and manage networks and troubleshoot problems. They also learn softer skills critical for a successful professional career, such as communicating clearly, providing strong customer service and how to interview for a job.
At the end of IT-Ready, students take the CompTIA A+ certification exam, after which they may qualify for a six-month paid apprenticeship with a local participating company, usually in the role of help-desk or technical support. These apprenticeships often lead to permanent, full-time employment.
By providing IT-Ready classes where public-housing residents live, we can equip good, hard-working people with skills needed for successful careers within the IT industry.
We at Creating IT Futures are excited to be part of this important initiative — and we look forward to bringing you more stories of people whose lives have changed, for good, because of the IT training and skills they’ve learned through IT-Ready.
By Colleen Attwell