Chicago Career Tech Program Helps Non-profit Organizations Find New Staff Talent United Way is proud to partner with Chicago Career Tech (CCT), an innovative, leading resource for local businesses and non-profit organizations that strives to close the workforce skills gap. By leveraging public and private partnerships and financial support from the City of Chicago and State of Illinois, CCT offers unemployed emerging and middle-income Chicago residents the skills and training needed to obtain and succeed in high-demand technology-based careers. Through this job retraining program, participants obtain classroom training 2-3 days per week and engage in hands-on learning at businesses and non-profit organizations 3 days per week. The purpose of the hands-on learning experience is to have participants explore a new profession where they can experience a different setting, and utilize new skills, as well as develop relationships and a professional network. United Way manages the hands-on learning placements at non-profit organizations. CCT was founded in Spring of 2010. Since that time, CCT has completed 4 classes of participants in the career retraining program where participant class sizes ranged from approximately 160 participants to 300 participants per class. CCT is currently in its fifth class of participants for Summer/Fall 2012 and United Way has partnered with over 50 non-profit organizations to serve as hands-on learning hosts for this class. Benefits to Host Sites and Success Stories The program has been very beneficial to the businesses and non-profit host sites because it provides them with talented, retrained professionals that may be needed to fill open employment opportunities. Indeed, more than 30 of the non-profit host sites have hired CCT participants and/or graduates in various capacities in areas such as project management, social media, web design, IT help desk, third-party billing, and contract management, among others, to help meet organizational needs. Some of these sites include Association House, Chicago Public Schools, Children’s Home + Aid, LEARN Charter School, Youth Guidance, Carole Robertson Center for Learning, Inspiration Corporation, Heartland Alliance, Chicago Commons, and many more. At Heartland Alliance, the supervisor, Jason Eliason, was able to introduce CCT participant, Floyd Garner, to the Project Management field and get him familiar with how the department operated at his organization. When an opportunity became available, Mr. Gardner was a good fit for the position. Mr. Eliason, a Project Manager in Heartland Alliance’s IT department, stated “The CCT program provides Heartland Alliance a great way to share our IT Project Management expertise, utilize skilled persons to advance our PM infrastructure, and introduce good people to our organization. Floyd Gardner demonstrated Project Management knowledge, his ability to pick up on the nuances of our varied and complex environment, and his successful internship track record made him the ideal candidate when we had an available position. The CCT program has been a win-win for Heartland Alliance.” Mr. Gardner was very grateful for his participation in the CCT program and his placement at Heartland Alliance. “The CCT program provided me with an opportunity to reinvent my career by providing the educational and hands on learning experience in a technology focused area. This training enhanced my soft skills while providing the technical foundation for me to be marketable as an IT Professional in a very competitive job market. I was fortunate to work under an extremely talented and knowledgeable Project Manager, Jason Eliason. I am settling into my new role as IT Project and Purchasing Manager — I love the pace, recently acquired my PMP ® certification, and am optimistic about future career prospects, none of which would have been possible without the United Way, the CCT Program or Jason Eliason and the Heartland Alliance organization for taking the risk and giving me a chance to show off my new skills.” Another CCT success story comes from our partnership with Children’s Home + Aid, a leading children and family service agency in Illinois with approximately 880 employees. Children’s Home + Aid has partnered with United Way and CCT to host participants since the program’s inception in May 2010. It created a full-time staff position in October 2011 for the CCT participant it was hosting at that time for hands-on learning. One of the Supervisors of the CCT participants at Children’s Home + Aid, Eric Brenner, was named the Group 3 Outstanding supervisor for the time, attention and mentorship that he provides to participants. Brenner and the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael Shaver, believe that the benefits the organization gains from hosting CCT participants outweigh the time Brenner invests in oversight. Inspiration Corporation, an organization that strives to help people who are affected by homelessness and poverty improve their lives, has also been able to fill an organizational need through the CCT program and offered its most recent CCT participant a position at the organization. Kim Davis, Associate Director of Finance and Administration, finds the partnership with CCT and United Way to be very beneficial. “Inspiration Corporation’s experience with the CCT program has always been wonderful, and it seems to get better with each class. Over the course of his internship with our organization, our CCT participant, Guy Merola, learned so much and became so adept at troubleshooting and keeping our network and technology needs under control that our outsourced technology consultants recommended reducing the frequency of their visits from every other week to once a month. Guy is now working as an independent contractor for us on a part-time basis, and we hope to hang on to him for as long as possible.” To learn more about our partnership and the Chicago Career Tech program, please click here. Post submitted on behalf of Kristy Kolzow, CCT Summer Intern at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.
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