By Charles Eaton
In the recent presidential race, both candidates talked about job training as being high on the priority list of their administration. The IT industry, which by some counts has more than 300,000 open technical jobs, likes the sound of training as do so many people who are out of work and looking for a new career direction.
At the Creating IT Futures Foundation, we certainly support training as a way to improve the skills of workers who have been unemployed so long their resumes are rusty, or who have had their industries (like manufacturing) disappear from under them. Were grateful for the companies that have stepped forward to support what were doing on a daily basis to change peoples lives through IT careers.
But it has to be done right. The fact is there is more to job training and placement than meets the eye. Its possible to do more harm than good, even when an organization is well-intentioned.
In crafting our IT-Ready Apprentice Program that we debuted in three cities in 2012, we spent almost a year studying training programs across the country to learn what was working. Looking closely at successful programs helped us create our own IT-Ready program that, in its first iteration, saw more than 90 percent of eligible graduates landing in full-time IT apprenticeships or permanent jobs within four months.
Certainly, weve learned some things the hard way, but our premise and program design were on target: Deploy an intense and disciplined training structure to build the knowledge, confidence and technical and soft skills of job candidates to match what local employers are looking for. We knew from the beginning that we were taking an experimental approach and we still have a lot we want to test and learn. We will continue to tweak some elements of our program in order to bring down costs and ensure that we have the most work-ready participants at graduation.
Here are six key questions that the Obama administration (as well as IT companies that generously support nonprofit training programs) should ask of any tech training program it funds:
Training and placement programs that are smart in their design and deployment can make a huge difference. We see that difference being made every day. Thats why its important to make sure that that the training that is funded has all the pieces in place. There is simply too much at stake for Americans over the next four years no matter who is in the White House.
Charles Eaton is executive director of the Creating IT Futures Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity and the philanthropic arm of