Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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August 21, 2012

Stepping Up to the Plate

The eight-week IT-Ready Apprentice Program wasn’t conceived simply as a way to help adults gain a Certificate of Completion, or even to get them their first IT certification.

Though IT-Ready accomplishes those things, the program would be considered a failure if it didn’t place a high percentage of its participants into work roles. 

Their success is owed to companies that step up to the plate and offer to take on a new worker on a trial basis, usually for six months, paying up to $15 an hour for full-time work.  

For some companies, the motivation to work with IT-Ready is their bottom line. Finding workers with the right mix of technical and professional skills isn’t always easy. According to which tracks the availability of IT-related jobs, up to 300,000 IT jobs are currently going unfilled. High competition for workers means high turnover for a lot of companies — and that churn can get expensive.  

For other companies, it’s a matter of being able to try out an employee on an apprenticeship basis for six months — while also knowing that every dollar in wages goes directly to the employee. With a temp agency, the sourcing company has to take a percentage off the top. As a funded charity, IT-Ready is able for the apprentice to pocket 100 percent of the wages he or she earns.

The Spring 2012 Mpls. / St. Paul IT-Ready Class saw participants land at companies such as Covidien, the GED Testing Service, HealthPartners, Medica, and SecureConnect.

The impression made on the IT-Ready graduates is extraordinary. Many of the participants had been out of work for more than a year, sometimes stuck in industries such as manufacturing that had bleak prospects for growth and hiring.

“Finally, after 22 months of unemployment I will return to the workforce,” said Bob Garner, who started with Twin-Cities-based Medica on Aug. 13, 2012. “This means so much to my family.”

Recruiting employers for IT-Ready has been the main task of Kathy Brennan in the Twin Cities. Both have done extensive networking with business leaders in their area to tell the IT-Ready story and make a good match between an apprentice’s skills and a company's entry-level job opportunities. 

“The organizations we are working with first and foremost are profitable companies that expect a return on their time and investments,” noted Brennan, who always tries to emphasize the extra effort that IT-Ready makes to screen, train, and help participants certify as CompTIA A+.

“After companies learned the value of our services, they were even more pleased to know their efforts are helping those in need,” Brennan said.