Since launching in Fall 2012, the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training (HITT) program at St. Petersburg College has helped 68 previously unemployed IT professionals find jobs.
The training program, funded by a $3.8 million federal grant, offers paid tuition, books and fees for certification training in information technology and telecommunications to the long-term, under- and unemployed in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
A total of 187 residents have enrolled in the program, and 125 have completed training. Programs are offered in computer support, programming and database administration through Corporate Training and the College of Computer and Information Technology. Applicants apply through CareerSource Pinellas.
“We’re extremely excited about helping students in their job search,” said James Connolly, director of Corporate Training at SPC.
Though the objective of the HITT Grant Program is to help the unemployed get back to work quickly, the program also “helps students get the skills they need to move up in the IT field,” said, Marie Couch, coordinator of the HITT grant program at SPC.
“The Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training Program provides technology training to eligible individuals interested in an IT career for the skill upgrades needed to obtain the industry certifications employers require,” said Michelle Schultz, CareerSource Program Director. “The program delivers fast-track courses, certification assistance and job placement services to support students in reaching the next level of their career.”
Phil Kuligowski earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of South Florida before pursuing his Cisco Certified Network Associate certificate at SPC through HITT.
“SPC has been extremely supportive of my advancement in the IT field,” said Phil Kuligowski, who is now working at Cisco Systems as an Associate Systems Engineer. “I was able to get support through the HITT program to work towards my CCNA Certification. Having student loans, little money, and no prior work experience made it extremely difficult to accomplish much of anything. With their help, a passion for networking, and excellent career advisement, I was able to complete my certifications and get superior support as I applied for various jobs.”
Part of that support came from a newly hired Career Outreach Specialist, who helps students with interview skills, resume writing and job referrals. Once students complete their training, often in as little as eight weeks, they receive a certificate and a voucher to take industry certification exams. Students begin the program with agile development training, which is used in project management and team building, and ranks as the most needed job skill based on a recent IT Skills Gap Analysis.
Potential applicants can apply for CompTIA A+ Helpdesk, CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician programs through Aug. 26.
Training for a Growing Career
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the information technology industry are expected to increase 16% percent by the year 2021. The fastest growing occupations will be computer support specialists (14%), systems analysts (20%), computer engineers (32%) and database administrators (20%). Comparatively, IT occupations across Florida and the Tampa Bay Region will grow at a much higher pace over the next 10 years (22% and 20%, respectively). The median hourly wage for the industry in this region was $29.55 in 2011.