For seven years now, IT-Ready has produced workforce-ready, entry-level tech employees — developing new IT talent where it didn’t exist before.
With the country’s unemployment level the lowest it’s been in 50 years, developing new talent is critical, says Sue Wallace, executive director of national workforce solutions at Creating IT Futures, an IT workforce charity founded by CompTIA.
“The tech workforce has jobs, but there aren’t enough candidates for the vacancies because qualified people are already employed doing that same work for another employers,” she said. “When that happens, we see poaching — employers going out and recruiting from other employers.”
The IT industry needs the new talent IT-Ready is developing, she said.
Kathy Brennan (left) and Sue Wallace manage the workforce solutions managers for IT-Ready, helping to connect employers to students.
“At IT-Ready, we get people who aren’t in the tech industry — they have the aptitude, they have the passion, but they are not working in IT,” she said. “And we skill those people up so they can get into the tech pipeline and create a bigger pool of candidates for all employers.”
Technology is a strategic function for all employers, no matter whether they operate in finance, healthcare or manufacturing. The relationships that IT-Ready has developed with employers strengthen the program and better prepare students for tech careers, Wallace said.
Here are seven ways that employers support IT-Ready, Wallace said.
- Employers hire graduates.
This is crucial, Wallace said.
“If we did not have employers open to a non-traditional pathway into a tech career and to giving students a chance to prove themselves, we would have to shut our doors tomorrow,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for our employer partners who know and trust the IT-Ready model, and who provide work opportunities for our graduates.”
- Employers spread the word about IT-Ready.
Although the tech industry is enormous, leaders within it know and talk to each other, Wallace said.
“And every time one of our employer partners shares how great their recent IT-Ready hire proved to be, it builds awareness and lends credibility to our program,” she said.
- Employers speak to IT-Ready classes.
IT-Ready students love to have tech leaders visit their classes and share information about hiring, workplace etiquette, best practices and other useful “insider” knowledge.
“Because most IT-Ready students have taken a non-traditional path to our classrooms, that practical knowledge and experience is extremely helpful to them,” she said.
- Employers conduct mock interviews for IT-Ready students.
Time and again, IT-Ready graduates report that mock interviews conducted with tech employers during their classroom time helped them better prepare for real-world experiences, Wallace said.
“It’s a very valuable exercise for people who may not have ever interviewed beyond the retail setting,” she said.
- Employers serve on IT-Ready’s Business Advisory Council.
Employer partners who serve on the Business Advisory Council review IT-Ready’s curriculum to ensure that it meshes with tech industry business needs.
“They help ensure that we continue to equip our graduates with tech skills needed and wanted in the real workforce,” Wallace said.
- Employers sponsor IT-Ready events.
IT-Ready regularly conducts events — such as employer information sessions and IT-Ready alumni reunions — to build greater awareness about the program.
“It helps tremendously when employers help offset the costs of these events,” Wallace said.
- Employers underwrite the costs of IT-Ready.
Sue Wallace meets with local employers to help them get involved with IT-Ready.
While IT-Ready is offered to participants for free, it costs about $5,000 to educate each student.
“We are incredibly fortunate that employer partners and other donors see the value in IT-Ready and are willing to subsidize the costs of educating new tech workers,” Wallace said.
Wallace said that IT-Ready welcomes the interest of employers who would like to get more involved with the program. If you’d like more information about how you or your workplace could help IT-Ready and find new entry-level tech hires, please contact the IT-Ready Workforce Solutions Manager that’s closest to your region.