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New Information & Tech Pathways

Starting the Conversation

MBEP’s Workforce Initiative has been leading the conversation and creating opportunities for collaboration around career pathways since its inception. In 2018 and 2019, MBEP invited JobTrain CEO Barrie Hathaway to lead breakout and lightning round sessions, with the goal of looking outside the region for successful models that could be imported here. The Menlo Park-based nonprofit educational and training institution helps low-income individuals attain stability and provides intensive skills training for high-demand careers in the fields of healthcare, construction, IT, and culinary arts.

Creating that pipeline for sustainable, entry-level jobs helps end cycles of poverty and creates opportunities for employers to access talented, capable workers with essential job skills. JobTrain creates programs that meet people where they are, said Hathaway, first addressing barriers to stability, from food and housing insecurity to legal issues, then focusing on essential skills (ESL, digital skills, high school equivalencies, etc.), and ultimately, intensive training in select, high-demand careers so that they can move into entry-level jobs with promising career pathways.

Hathaway described how JobTrain has been working with MBEP to fill some of the gaps that exist in the Monterey Bay region and is looking to expand programs here with intensive training opportunities that partner with local employers who can provide financial, in-kind support and internship opportunities.

“When we solve this issue, of very low-income people who are caught in the cycle of poverty because they don’t have skills for the jobs employers need, we solve this problem for everybody,” Hathaway said in his SOTR 2019 talk, “and it’s a miraculous process.” Since sharing JobTrain’s IT Support and Services Training Program within Monterey Bay, our region has stepped up to implement new Information and Technology pathways that are accessible for students and adult learners.  Learn more about careers in Information Technology and Services in the tri-county region on Monterey Bay Career Coach. Read on to learn more!

IT Institute

Cabrillo College’s IT Institute is holding its first cohort of an 11-week program designed to jumpstart new technical careers, which will launch on Monday, Jan. 25. The program is designed to prepare students with the career and technical skills needed to land entry-level IT jobs or to serve as the first step toward professional certifications such as the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, CompTIA A+ Certification, or Cabrillo’s IT Degree Program in Computer Network and System Administration or Computer Support Specialist.

Cabrillo had been working at launching its IT Institute since last year, says Cabrillo’s Terri Oropeza, adjunct professor of Computer and Information Systems who oversees internships and work experience. Interest in the program is strong and it is unique in that it features an intensive program particularly appropriate for nontraditional students or returning professionals: At just 11 weeks, it’s shorter than a regular 16-week college semester, and the cost for the five-unit credits is just $250, and it will be led by experienced faculty and staff who have worked in IT, with access to career resources and one-on-one and group support from the IT Institute Team. 

“The idea was really to reach out to an adult audience, not your typical high school-to-college audience, but people who perhaps never thought about going to college, or departed from that path but now want to circle back for technical careers, and maybe they already have some skills and backgrounds,” said Oropeza. “This is the beginning of a pathway: Some will go right into careers from this program, and some will discover they want more classes at Cabrillo.”

Cabrillo has reached out to EDD, Workforce Development Board, and local industry such as retail, to spread the news of its new IT Institute, which limits its cohort to 30 students. 

IT Institute consists of eight online classes that meet between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, with a combination of instructor-led and self-directed study time. Space is still available but cohorts are limited to 30 students. Learn more

Cabrillo’s IT Institute is just one of several promising new programs in the Monterey Bay region designed to nurture tech careers.

IT Operations

Monterey Peninsula College will also launch a certificate program, Basic IT Operations Essentials, that was designed with input from an industry partner. The purpose of this certificate is to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to execute essential IT operations. Upon completion of these courses, the student will have the skills necessary to be able to acquire either an entry-level help desk position at the beginning of their career or a mid-level position, if they have existing relevant business operations experience within the organization. In addition, students who complete the certificate will be prepared to sit for industry-recognized certifications. Visit MPC’s Business & Technology division for updates. IT operations jobs include computer user support specialists, who provide technical assistance to computer users, and computer systems analysts, who can analyze science, engineering, business, and other data processing problems to implement and improve computer systems.  Job growth for IT operations increased 8% in the five-year period ending 2019, according to employment outlook data, with local IT professionals averaging $36.16 per hour. Computer user support specialists averaged $29.62, while computer systems analysts earned an average of $45.97.

Real-World Experience

Digital NEST continues to create meaningful hands-on training experiences for its young members and is working with nonprofits and individuals to create support systems for families in unincorporated areas of north Monterey County most impacted by the Digital Divide.

From the beginning, the nonprofit youth workforce and development center has allowed its NESTers to learn about the challenges of IT infrastructure from within, as they assist with the organization’s own growth and expansion to new locations. 

Real-world problem-solving — knowing that mistakes can happen, and having backup plans — is the most effective way people learn, says Digital NEST Associate Director of Programs Yazmin Herrera. “It’s them taking a problem and finding out a solution.”

The nonprofit is already collaborating with Cabrillo College and Pajaro Valley Unified School District to maximize existing resources and is looking to fill training gaps as needed, particularly when it comes to those hands-on opportunities. Through its tech squad, more advanced NESTers have opportunities to get paid for consulting work, and Herrera hopes to see those opportunities expand to schools and other organizations in the region.

The Watsonville-based nonprofit, which just marked its sixth year, recently moved into a larger Salinas location and is looking to open a third center in Gilroy later year.