For 15 weeks this summer and fall, a group of 15 students took part in a network and help desk IT career course at Living Classrooms on E. Fayette St. in East Baltimore.
The course was a pilot developed by Hanover-based IT services firm TEKsystems, tech training organization Per Scholas and local education and workforce development nonprofit Living Classrooms.
During the course, students learned to troubleshoot and maintain desktop and mobile devices, software and networks. It offered students CompTIA’s A+ and NETWORK+ certifications, which are key for entry level employment, said Per Scholas Executive Vice President of National Programs Bridgette Gray. The national nonprofit provides training in six cities for adults who unemployed or underemployed.
“Those two credentials will get you in the door, and from there we have students grow their skills,” Gray said.
The free training was offered five days a week, with one of the days per week focused on professional development. Gray said the students must demonstrate a commitment to learning IT before entering the program.
“At the end of the day this course is about the students and the attitude and aptitude they bring to the table. They’re from diverse and often challenging circumstances, with little to no exposure to IT prior to this course,” Franklin Reed, director of diversity and inclusion at TEKsystems, said in a statement. “But each of them made the decision to better themselves, and they persevered through a very challenging four months in order to set themselves up for success. I’m humbled to be a part of this and so proud of how our partners have worked together to make this a reality.”
On November 2, a graduation was held at Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, and the organizations also seek to maintain connections beyond the 15 weeks. Following the course, nine of the people who partook were employed by TEKsystems after the program concluded, Gray said. The company works globally, and has over 6,000 clients. Per Scholas maintains a connection with students as well as it seeks to build career pathways for students.
For Per Scholas and TEKsystems, it represented a new arm of a partnership formed in 2015. It’s also a sign of one of the Baltimore area’s large companies are getting involved in creating paths to a tech job in the city.
“It’s inspiring to see this unique partnership come to fruition after harnessing the global network of TEKsystems, industry knowledge of Per Scholas, and our proven track record of delivering hands-on education and job training,” James Piper Bond, president and CEO of Living Classrooms Foundation, said in a statement.