Until recently, Kathleen Brennan’s job was helping to sell GPS electronics to large retailers around the Twin Cities, MN.
She’s still helping people locate a true direction, but in a slightly different way. Now Brennan is helping them find careers in technology.
Brennan is one of three representatives of the IT-Ready Apprentice Program whose task is to link graduates of the eight-week, nonprofit information technology training program to employers in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Minneapolis / St. Paul markets.
Participating companies may be providers of IT services or corporations that have substantial need for in-house technical help.
The participating business gets a worker trained in technical as well as soft skills such as communication and conflict management. The apprentice gets a chance at a new career in a challenging economy.
“The companies know we have their best interest in mind, that we try to send them people who we feel would be the best fit,” says Brennan, who personally placed 20 IT-Ready graduates from the first round of classes into apprenticeships.
Brennan develops a rapport with the IT-Ready students before pairing them up with employer interviews. It can be an anxious wait until she hears the results. “When I get those emails that say, ‘I got the job‘... and they are so thrilled about getting the jobs, it’s really a great feeling.”
Sharing Brennan’s quest in Cincinnati is Chris Williams. Williams spent over 25 years working for AT&T and Cincinnati Bell in various capacities as a trainer, sales manager, and product manager. He’s familiar with the business landscape in Cincinnati and knows that companies can’t afford to make too many hiring mistakes.
“From an employer point of view, it is all good,” Williams says. “They're going to get a great employee who has been well trained, who is extremely motivated, who is going to come into the marketplace with all the skills they need to go into that job.”
On top of that, employing someone who has been unemployed or underemployed for a year or more “is an opportunity to give back to the community,” says Williams.
“Having worked in the private sector before, I know a lot of money is spent on recruitment, training, and retention,” said Green. “Partnering with us to make sure they get the right employee can really cut down on the cost of that.”
Together the three job placement officers have managed to place a majority of IT-Ready graduates in entry-level positions that have an opportunity for advancement.
Participating companies include 3M, Pearson VUE, Tata Consulting Services, Time Warner, and JP Morgan Chase, to name just a few of the more than 20 that have taken on an IT-Ready graduate either directly or through an IT services contracting company such as Pomeroy, Ascendum, or TEKsystems.What really excites these employer recruiters is when they see IT-Ready graduates becoming stellar performers:
• One IT-Ready graduate placed by Williams struggled with self-confidence going into her first IT job. But within six weeks of starting her position, that new employee was promoted to a project team leader.
• Brennan was informed that the IT-Ready graduate she placed in one company was motivating his new co-workers to uplevel their skills with more certifications. “The hiring manager said we’re raising the bar of everybody at that company. It’s contagious,” Brennan says.
Brennan says it’s not unusual for IT-Ready graduates to go the extra mile at their first job because they are so grateful for the free training and certification testing, which is currently funded by CompTIA’s philanthropic arm, Creating IT Futures .
“They will say, ‘Kathy, it doesn’t matter the job, I will learn and do my best.’ It’s their attitude that speaks volumes.”
More than 20 employers have stepped forward as participants in the IT-Ready Apprentice Program. To learn more, go to www.ITready.com.