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Baltimore / Computer science / Hiring / Jobs / Municipal government

This free training course aims to help unemployed Marylanders gain IT skills

CompTIA and EARN Maryland put together a new course that preps for three skills in demand: remote tech support, cloud computing and cybersecurity.

Maryland's flag. (Flickr/Thad Zajdowicz)

A free IT training program is aiming to help unemployed Maryland residents gain skills that are in demand during the pandemic.

To create the online program, IT industry trade association CompTIA partnered with EARN Maryland, a workforce training initiative of the state’s labor department, which is providing funding to allow it to be offered for free.

It’s open to Maryland residents, and no prior tech skills are required. Over 12 weeks starting on Sept. 14, a CompTIA instructor will lead the part-time course, which covers the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications. Graduates will also receive job placement assistance. Applications are due by Aug. 14.

It arrives amid a backdrop of the pandemic and economic downturn that has left more than 38 million Americans out of work.

“We don’t know when many of those who lost their jobs will be rehired,” said Mark Plunkett, senior director of training operations and business development at CompTIA. “What we do know is that during Q1 2020, there were over 1 million core IT job openings in the US, according to Burning Glass Technologies Labor Insights. In relation to the entire U.S. job market, there were 10.6 million total postings for the same Q1 2020 period.”

In Maryland, CompTIA said there are 110,000 open tech job postings, with this heatmap from Cyberseek showing 20,000 in cybersecurity. So the team at CompTIA’s custom training unit put together an accelerated course that is “designed to provide alternative on-ramps for individuals to pursue in-demand tech skills they need to carve out a successful IT career,” Plunkett said. It drew on experience, as CompTIA has delivered custom training more than 70 orgs, as well as data and demand.

“Due to the pandemic, there are three key areas of skill demand — remote tech support, cloud computing and cybersecurity,” Plunkett said. “CompTIA A+ is the industry standard for establishing a career in IT and the preferred qualifying credential for remote technical support and IT operational roles, and it’s a fantastic way to get into an IT career and grow, with more than one million other IT professionals who have built their IT careers on this certification.”

For its part, the CompTIA Security+ certification establishes that the earner possesses knowledge for roles like systems administrator, security specialist and cybersecurity analyst.

With the recession that is likely to bring an uneven recovery across industries, there’s been increased talk of reskilling workforces for the roles that are available. At the same time, education delivered virtually is becoming even more the norm. The course is an example of an online resource offered outside a formal institution that can help that process along.


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