Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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October 20, 2015

Make Changes, One Individual at a Time

By Lisa Fasold

EmployerBreakfast Sue Wallace, executive director, Minnesota, Creating IT Futures, chats with Erick Garcia
Luna, senior policy aide of economic development, Minneapolis Mayor’s Office, before
the IT-Ready Employer Breakfast.
In Minnesota, we have more than 60 employers that have found IT staffers through IT-Ready. After two years on the job, 88 percent of our certified graduates are still working in IT – a big testament to the success of IT-Ready. Last week, nearly 50 employers came to our IT-Ready Employer Breakfast, hosted by HealthPartners and co-sponsored by the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA).

Speaking at the breakfast, Tim Barrett, MHTA’s director of STEM education and workforce development, said, “One of our goals is to make Minnesota one of the top five technology states. We want to foster an entrepreneurial environment that’s even more innovative. But where are we going to find the future workforce to keep that going? IT-Ready is a great partner to help us do that.”

As the philanthropic arm of CompTIA, the Creating IT Futures Foundation is opening up the tech worker pipeline through research, program development and partnering. In Minnesota, our efforts are focused on our IT-Ready career program. It’s an on-ramp for more adults to prepare for, secure and succeed in IT careers.

Earlier this year, because of the collaborative work of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and her team, the White House selected Minneapolis as one of the first cities for the TechHire Initiative. With more funding to skill up the Twin Cities’ workforce and place more people into tech careers, Mayor Hodges has selected three workforce programs to focus on: Prime Digital Academy, Concordia University and IT-Ready.

Leading the charge for the TechHire Initiative within the Mayor’s Office is Erick Garcia Luna, senior policy aide of economic development. During the breakfast, Luna told employers, “Businesses like yours are helping to keep Minneapolis at the forefront of economic prosperity and innovation. This year, Buzzfeed, Aimia Solutions, Arctic Cat and Pandora Music have opened offices in Minneapolis, becoming part of our overall thriving economy. With 3.5 percent unemployment and $1 billion approved in new construction projects this year, we can entice more employers to the region. Our commitment to infrastructure and a skilled workforce has made Minneapolis one of top places to do business in the nation.”

Luna commented on how the Mayor’s office is not only focused on the tech workforce but bringing diversity into the hiring equation. “There is a constant demand for a new set of skills. Companies in every sector have a critical need for a skilled workforce with some type of IT training. But we need to put special emphasis on training women and people of color to take some of those IT jobs,” said Luna. “By working together and providing the skills needed, we are giving motivated individuals an opportunity to grow and positively impact their communities. Change can be made one individual at a time.”

Luna commented that five IT-Ready graduates are now employed by the City of Minneapolis and have boosted the percentage of people of color in the IT department to 27 percent.

“We are looking forward to growing this partnership with all of you. We will make sure the workforce pipeline remains strong while addressing the disparities that could impact the future current quality of life we now enjoy,” said Luna. “Out of the 300 TechHire partners nationwide, Minneapolis has 60 of them. The region is already ahead of the game. But we aren’t ready to sit still. We have the ingredients to need to spur more innovation and lay the foundation for the next 3M or General Mills.”

One of the recent entrants to the tech workforce is Javier Martinez, who graduated from the IT-Ready program last year. During the breakfast, he told employers of how he changed his career, skilled up and landed a position on OurFamilyWizard.com. You can learn more about Martinez in the blog we wrote about him last year.

HealthPartnersAward Charles Eaton, CEO, Creating IT Futures, presents the 2015 Polaris Award to
HealthPartners, accepted by Becky Ryan, senior manager of HealthPartners’ Enterprise
Support Centers.
One of the largest employers of IT-Ready graduates and one of the biggest supporters of the program has been HealthPartners. They’ve taken on 12 graduates and offered 10 of them full-time positions at HealthPartners and helped to launch the IT careers of the other two at local organizations. During the breakfast, Charles Eaton, CEO of Creating IT Futures, presented the 2015 Polaris Award to HealthPartners in honor of its work with IT-Ready and building the tech worker pipeline in the Twin Cities. Becky Ryan, senior manager of HealthPartners’ Enterprise Support Centers, accepted the award.

Ryan said, “When an opening becomes available in our IT department, we look to IT-Ready. Beyond their tech skills, the graduates have a customer service attitude, business knowledge, dedication to be on-time and an appreciation for their jobs. I believe in this program. IT-Ready is identifying new talent for us.”