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Urban Tech Jobs Program: Training Job-seekers for the Tech Industry

The Urban League’s Urban Tech Jobs Program (UTJP) will get more Americans working in the technology sector.  Jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) have the highest earning projections and the highest job growth but the lowest employment rates (Chamber of Commerce).

UTJP is an accelerated long-term training program that assists unemployed- and underemployed adults in the greater Portland-Vancouver area to launch a career in the technology industry. Made possible through an Urban League contract with the U.S. Department of Labor, the program includes customizable job readiness workshops, access to tech training, and paid on-the-job training opportunities. Participants may be given the option of taking CompTIA, Microsoft, or Cisco certification training classes through local partners such as Mt. Hood Community College, and the Creating IT Futures Foundation. The program is individualized and will vary between participants. From the start of the program, it takes an average of eight months for trainees to land full-time tech roles. The Urban League’s ultimate aim is to create competitive candidates for H-1B visa occupations and place participants into full-time positions with local- and national technology businesses.  Jobs available to graduates include but are not limited to cable installation, information technology (IT) security, software development, information security analysis, computer support, and IT sales management.

UTJP participants Jared, Jerome, and Pepper pictured during their break from tech-training class

Jerome Smith, one of four military veterans in Cohort 1 of the UTJP, told The Skanner newspaper, “[i]t’s a stellar business model for people who are changing their career fields or have an interest in the tech world”.

In addition to military veterans, Cohort 1 is composed of 47% African-Americans and 41% women. These demographics challenge common prejudices about who works and thrives in STEM industries.

UTJP participants shown at the annual Urban League of Portland Career Connections Job Fair

UTJP also offers resiliency workshops that give individuals the personal support they need to successfully complete the program, and thrive in their new field. Furthermore, the Urban League offers assistance with healthcare, housing, and personal development, making the organization’s offering unique because of its ability to customize support for each participant.

In June, the Urban League’s first UTJP’s cohort graduated six participants from the IT-Ready class in Portland. Thirty percent of those participants have already achieved their CompTIA A+ certification, a nationally recognized endorsement for entry-level computer service professionals in installing, maintaining, customizing, and operating personal computers.

Group photo of the Urban League of Portland’s first cohort of the Urban Tech Job Program

The Urban League will host an open information session on July 18, 2017, for community members interested in applying for the second cohort of UTJP. Applicants are encouraged to attend the session to learn more about their potential eligibility, and the application process. Attendees will also be able to ask questions of Workforce Department specialists. The Urban League will begin accepting applications for the UTJP Cohort 2 at on July 31, 2017.


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Written By Ismailiya Moppin, Intern