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A New Era of IT Professionals

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This week, we wanted to highlight a new program that provides foundational career skills in Informational Technology. Last month, a group of seven individuals took a big step in their careers by graduating as a Google IT Support Professionals in the inaugural class of the Kalamazoo Technology Training Partnership (KTTP).

The KTTP brings together employers, community organizations, education, and workforce development to identify and provide relevant alternative educational and non-traditional training opportunities to Kalamazoo Promise Scholars and Kalamazoo residents, with a focus on creating a more robust and diverse IT community. Its primary goal is to offer a foundational skills training program that provides individuals with the skills needed to be successful in an entry-level technology position.

It is no secret that IT workers are in high demand both locally and nationally, especially with more reliance on technology as people are working and learning from home during the pandemic. The KTTP enables business partners to lean into community development connecting local talent to the IT industry, as well as find new hires of their own.

“We have struggled with hiring ‘Newmindy’ people from the beginning of the company,” Newmind Group COO Ryan Russy shared. “Whenever we need to hire and place ads online, the quality and quantity of applicants has been lacking. We feel strongly that our ongoing partnership with the KTTP and the training curriculum that we put together will solve our hiring and training challenges for our entry level technical positions.”

Currently, local organizations involved in KTTP include Consumers Credit Union, CTS Telecom, Greenleaf Hospitality Group, the Kalamazoo Public Library, Newmind Group, and The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise). Each of the partners believes that business participation is necessary for the creation of a more diverse and skilled IT talent pipeline.

“I have worked with industry partnerships nationally, and I have never seen the type of commitment that the KTTP has made,” Sarah Klerk, Director of Workforce Strategy at The Promise revealed. “Their core values align with the values we need in Kalamazoo to strengthen the local economy and to ensure Promise Scholars and individuals that live in the community can access living wage jobs in Kalamazoo.”

In the Google IT Support Professional Certificate Training Program, graduates learned about technical support fundamentals, the bits and bytes of computer networking, operating systems, systems administration and IT infrastructure services, and IT security. Kyle Kelly, the KTTP instructor, and professor of Computer Information Systems at Lake Michigan College pays special attention to 21st century skill development, given that business partners agree that these are just as important as hard skills.

“For anyone who is interested in technology, I would say take the class,” KTTP graduate Jonann Walker shared. “I knew nothing about IT, but KTTP taught me more than enough. The course outline is specifically tailored to an on-the-job experience. Everything you are learning is what you will be doing at any point as an IT technician. It’s broken down to the bare minimum and builds up from there.”

Another graduate, Maliek Hargrove echoed that sentiment and liked the design of the class.

“After each learning session, we all came together and discussed specifically what we liked and didn't like,” He said. “Even then, we weren’t critiqued if we were right or wrong; it's all a learning process. Once you instill that in someone's head, it takes a little bit of stress off the shoulders of thinking you have to get everything correct.”

Taking these testimonials into consideration, we agree the first year of this program was a success. Congratulations to the inaugural graduating class of the KTTP! We cannot wait to see your hard work pay off and wish you the best of luck in your future careers.

The KTTP will offer the training program again this year and will begin recruiting soon. If you are a student who is interested in participating or a local business in need of talent, please email The Kalamazoo Promise.

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