New Jersey Business Magazine Features Per Scholas Newark
Per Scholas To Launch Women In Tech Software Engineering Apprenticeship
Fueled by Department of Labor Grant, All-Women Training Cohort in Washington, D.C. Region Starts Early 2022
Photo Credit: Department of Labor, Alyson Fligg
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 10, 2021) – At a ceremony held at Per Scholas’s Philadelphia Campus yesterday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty J. Walsh named Per Scholas one of five new Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant recipients. Joining Secretary Walsh at the announcement was Department of Labor Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon.
Per Scholas will use this grant to launch a Women in Tech Software Engineering Apprenticeship training track at its Washington, D.C.-area campus in 2022. Developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on women workers and in line with Per Scholas’s commitment to increase the number of women and women of color in technology jobs across America, 90 women will be trained over the course of 2022 as a result of this new innovation. The training will be delivered remotely and on a modified schedule, providing flexibility and support for parents or others with caregiving responsibilities. At the end of the 15-week training, graduates will enter a year-long paid apprenticeship in technology roles.
“It can’t be understated just how much the pandemic has impacted our nation – and women and women of color in particular. The creativity, compassion, and innovation from our Per Scholas team to identify this opportunity and create a new, unique offering centered to serve women learners is remarkable,” said Plinio Ayala, President and CEO of Per Scholas. “At Per Scholas, we’re always innovating and adjusting our offerings based on feedback from our employer partners and market demand. I’m very optimistic about our new Women in Tech Software Engineer Apprenticeship offering and have high hopes that we’ll be able to replicate and offer this training in additional markets in the months and years to come with additional, intentional investment.”
Administered by the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau and Employment and Training Administration, the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grants were awarded to four additional organizations based in California, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin. The funding will support grantees in their efforts to recruit, train, and retain more women in quality pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs as well as nontraditional occupations.
“For too long, women have faced barriers to gaining entry into apprenticeships and nontraditional careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty J. Walsh. “As we work to build back a better economy, these grants will empower women to get the training and support they need to secure good-paying jobs and pathways into the middle class. They are an important and effective tool for creating a more inclusive and equitable workforce.”
“The pandemic forced 3 million women out of the labor force, and women of color have borne that job loss the hardest. Black women’s employment is down 7 percent from pre-pandemic levels, and the number of Hispanic women is still down 5 percent. It’s never before been more important for us to advance training, employment, and return to work opportunities that connect women and particularly women of color into higher-wage jobs so that our nation’s economic recovery brings us greater equity,” said Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon.
Two Per Scholas Philadelphia women graduates shared their perspectives during the celebration. Lashay Cokley, who enrolled in Per Scholas training during the pandemic and graduated earlier this year shared, “Ultimately, I feel with technology, I’m able to access so many more possibilities than I was previously.”
“I gained so much from my experience with Per Scholas. It reinforced the knowledge I already had in technology, I gained a lot of new skills, and, most importantly, it gave me the confidence to pursue a career in technology, which is what I’ve always wanted,” said Per Scholas Philadelphia Alumna Susan Tabassum.
“In order to ensure an equitable recovery for women and women of color, investments just like this are essential,” said Caitlyn Brazill, who represented Per Scholas at yesterday’s announcement and serves as the national nonprofit’s Chief Development Officer. “Per Scholas commends the Biden Administration for prioritizing these kinds of investments – in proven programs – that support workers and training for high-growth careers.”
Photos from the September 9, 2021 women in tech event are available, courtesy of the Department of Labor, at this link.
About Per Scholas
Per Scholas is a national organization that has been advancing economic mobility for 25 years. Through rigorous training, professional development, and robust employer connections, we prepare individuals traditionally underrepresented in technology for high-growth careers in the industry. We partner with leading employers to build more diverse talent pools, directly connecting our graduates to new career opportunities at businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups. With campuses in 17 cities, Per Scholas has trained more than 14,000 individuals in tech skills, building bridges to careers in technology. To learn more, visit PerScholas.org.
Per Scholas Learner Featured on CBS Sunday Morning
CBS News featured Per Scholas learner, Richard Escotto on their Sunday Morning program. The feature focused on how many industries and labor markets are looking for employees following the pandemic and where those employees are working now. Richard Escotto mentioned that after he lost his restaurant job at the beginning of the pandemic, he decided to change career paths into technology. “[The pandemic] did give me an opportunity that was rare and probably was never going to happen, and sometimes you just have to seize that,” Richard reflected.
Richard Escotto is set to graduate from Per Scholas New York in October 2021 from our Cybersecurity course.
Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala Featured in New York Daily News Opinion Piece
In this opinion piece in New York Daily News, Per Scholas President and CEO, Plinio Ayala, comments on the job market and how creating a more inclusive labor market for employers and employees is beneficial for the country. “By prioritizing funding for evidence-based programs, we can do a better job of ensuring that federal legislation is actually supporting economic mobility rather than just funding nonprofits,” Ayala noted.
In this piece, titled ‘The Missing Link in Biden’s Jobs Plan,’ Ayala reflects on how tech training programs such as Per Scholas are able to bridge the gap between the abundance of open jobs and individuals with the skills necessary to fill them. “As the president and CEO of Per Scholas, a nonprofit that provides tuition-free training for careers in the technology sector, I’ve seen firsthand the impact programs like these can have on transforming workers’ careers, advancing economic mobility, and positively impacting local economies.”
Per Scholas Celebrates Inaugural Graduations in Phoenix and Seattle
Per Scholas has seen a lot of growth in 2021 as we expanded out to the west coast and welcomed our first graduates from Phoenix and Seattle! This month marks Per Scholas’s inaugural Full Stack Java Developer graduations in Phoenix and Seattle, powered by TEKsystems, These graduations follow our initial inaugural commencement in Pittsburgh, where half of Pittsburgh graduates have started their tech careers, several within a financial services institution and others with a logistics company. Since our training began, Per Scholas has been welcomed in these communities as we expand to advance economic mobility coast to coast.
In Phoenix, 19 graduates have mastered specific technical skills employers seek in entry and mid-level Java Developers, advanced their coding skills, and gained experience with Java, data structures, web services, algorithms, and more. Aligned with Per Scholas’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, half of the inaugural cohort in Phoenix identify as people of color and one-fifth as women.
Jaclyn Boyes has joined Per Scholas Phoenix as Managing Director, leading the strategic and programmatic direction of the local campus. Passionate about connecting people to purpose, Jaclyn’s career intersects nonprofit, business, and education. “The inaugural class reached their graduation goal by displaying adaptability, perseverance, and teamwork, and leave with key tech skills employers are seeking. We are thrilled for each learner’s success and excited to see our Per Scholas Phoenix graduates launch an in-demand career in technology,” said Jaclyn. “Thank you to TEKsystems for partnering with us to build a diverse pipeline of highly skilled tech talent here in Arizona.”
Per Scholas Instructors have been instrumental in the success of our inaugural Phoenix cohort. Jafer Al Haboubi, Phoenix’s Instructor, has noted that remotely teaching this cohort was fulfilling and a blessing: “I was happy to teach our beloved learners in Phoenix. They are some of the best learners I have had the pleasure of teaching! During this amazing 15-week journey, I have witnessed how these learners have overachieved their goals with resilience, commitment, and diligence. I feel blessed to change the lives of our learners via Per Scholas’ programs – an organization that truly cares about the community.”
On the far west coast in Seattle, 19 learners successfully graduated from Per Scholas’s inaugural Full Stack Java Developer course. Aligned with Per Scholas’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, two-thirds of learners are people of color, 42 percent identify as women, and half were unemployed for six or more months before they began this free, rigorous tech training.
Jacqueline Ivy Hardin has joined Per Scholas Seattle as Managing Director, leading the strategic and programmatic direction of the local campus. Passionate about creating equitable access to economic prosperity, Jackie’s career intersects workforce development, college access, and talent development. “Per Scholas is incredibly proud to join Seattle’s powerful tech community. Creating pathways to thriving wage careers for individuals traditionally underrepresented in technology is critical to maintaining a strong regional economy. We are excited for the opportunity to provide training that enables participants to kick start their careers in technology while also working toward the goal of creating inclusive economic prosperity in the region,” said Jackie Ivy Hardin, Managing Director, Per Scholas Seattle. “We’re very grateful to our partner TEKsystems and look forward to positively impacting communities across the Pacific Northwest, together.”
We are proud of our new graduates in Phoenix and Seattle as they make their mark in their communities and in the tech industry from our inaugural cohorts in partnership with TEKsystems, a hiring partner since 2015. Cheers to their new skills and careers in technology!
Per Scholas Atlanta Graduates Gain Industry Knowledge Through Capgemini’s Internship Program
Per Scholas has been a leader in connecting our learners with the skills and career development needed to pursue and land an IT career, however, opportunities like those which Capgemini provides have made it possible for our graduates to receive additional hands-on training and opportunities from their robust internship program. Many Per Scholas graduates from Atlanta, and additional cities nationwide, have joined Capgemini as paid interns and become full-time team members after learning more about the IT industry, gaining industry experience, and meeting with mentors. These opportunities are a great bridge between our tech training and industry experience for our learners and graduates.
Rachel Powe graduated from Per Scholas Atlanta in 2020 and is now a Junior Software Engineer at Capgemini. She initially started as an intern at Capgemini, but quickly moved into her current position with her tenacity and passion for technology. Rachel noted that there wasn’t a big push for women in tech when she was attending college, so she didn’t pursue a technology path. Once she graduated from Per Scholas’s Software Engineering course, however, she went into her internship role and was given the opportunity to build her knowledge base, her technical skills, and complete additional certifications through Capgemini.
Rachel reflects, “I would definitely recommend Per Scholas’ training and Capgemini’s internship program, especially for someone that is just starting their career in tech because it will help you identify what you want to do with your career and expose you to the other aspects of being a developer.” Rachel took advantage of every opportunity she had because of her tenacity during her training with Per Scholas and Capgemini. “I don’t think I would have been in this position so soon after graduating if it weren’t for Per Scholas, the partnerships they have, and how much they wanted us to succeed.”
Another Per Scholas learner that benefitted from Capgemini’s internship program was Kemazee Cooper. Kemazee is currently a Support Technician Lead at Capgemini in Atlanta. He was always interested in technology as one of the most prosperous career paths and often found himself fixing phones and computers for friends growing up. Before applying for Per Scholas and considering a tech career, Kemazee was a social worker for a nonprofit organization and decided to start considering IT roles. Once enrolled in Per Scholas’ training, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and as a result, training became remote. Kemazee was able to stay disciplined throughout the training and focus on his skills. Once he graduated, Kemazee accepted an internship with Capgemini where he learned more about the field and different aspects of technology and was eventually hired into a full-time position. “Per Scholas prepared me for situations I may see in the field as we went through a lot of scenarios, workshops, and labs,” he recalled. Next, Kemazee plans to earn an AWS certification and aims to become a mentor for others interested in tech, options he is considering after his experience with Capgemini’s internship program.
A model such as that with Capgemini, following training courses from Per Scholas, is one that is setting technology career-seeking individuals in Atlanta up for success. Not only are our graduates obtaining technical skills and career development knowledge, but they are also gaining industry experience with mentors through Capgemini’s internship program and advancing economic mobility in Atlanta.
Per Scholas Learners Thrive with Learner Support Team & The Anthem Foundation
When our learners graduate from Per Scholas and launch their careers in tech, we are confident in their ability to succeed in their IT roles as they are well-rounded with technical skills, career development, and life skills brought on by our Learner Support Team. Per Scholas created a national Learner Support Team at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, to ensure every learner across every campus could access these supports. A recent multi-year grant from the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., will help us expand our national Learner Support Team and our ability to provide virtual wellness workshops, COVID-19 health education, and one-on-one mental health sessions, all to manage stress and anxiety during the pandemic and beyond. As a result of this investment, Per Scholas aims to provide more than 5,250 learners across five states and six cities including in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, and New York with robust wellness, stress management, and benefit navigation services.
We’ve seen the impact of the Learner Support Team on learners including Franchelis Encarnacion and Travis McCullough, who both took advantage of this support.
Since her childhood in the Dominican Republic, Franchelis was always intrigued by technology and working with computers. Her exposure to technology all began when her mother put her into a computer basics program at the age of ten that piqued her interest throughout her life. In 2021, Franchelis applied for the IT Support course at Per Scholas New York after obtaining her GED at The Door with her passion for technology in mind. When she first started her training at Per Scholas, Franchelis was concerned that she couldn’t complete her training because everyone else had more experience, but her mentor from the Learner Support Team, Amanda, encouraged her to keep going and was a great point of reference for motivation. “As an ESL learner with Spanish as my first language, it was difficult for me to understand the tech verbiage, but I learned a lot of vocabulary through Per Scholas’ training,” she reflected.
Franchelis took advantage of the Learner Support Team, a program supported through funding from the Anthem Foundation, multiple times throughout her IT Support cohort. Her interactions with Amanda were centered around course-related stress, test preparation, and confidence-building – all aspects which gave her the capabilities to graduate and now have a job in technology. Since graduation, Franchelis received her Google IT certification and is now working for BNY Mellon on the Returning Home project to help set up computers for those who need assistance. With mentorship and career guidance from the Learner Support Team, Franchelis was confident and skilled enough to move forward in her technology career.
Another learner that took advantage of our Learner Support Team is Travis McCullough, a recent Per Scholas graduate from our IT Fundamentals cohort after months of remote training. Previously a paralegal, Travis decided to change career paths and dive further into technology, something he always had an interest in. He would listen to tech podcasts and watch videos to take apart his personal computers but did not have the time, affinity, or money to obtain a four-year degree. On his decision to apply to Per Scholas, Travis recalled, “I saw online with Per Scholas that everything was straightforward and approachable with no fine print. Per Scholas was here to help me learn at no cost. There were no surprises.”
Upon his first week of training, Travis was notified of the different resources Per Scholas provides for its learners – one of which he took advantage of as his training progressed. Travis took advantage of Per Scholas’ Learner Support Team, and reached out to Devin, a Learner Support Manager, to review his financial plan and scholarship opportunities. They met every two weeks to review different resources for financial planning, test anxiety, study tools, and IT engagement. Travis recalled the impact his Learner Support Team had on his experience: “It was exactly what I needed; more than what I came to them for. The entire process was awesome.” Now, Travis has graduated, and a new career in IT is on the horizon.
Travis has already acquired his Google IT certification and graduated from Per Scholas at the end of July, tested for his CompTIA A+ certification, and will start his career in technology – where he already has multiple job offers to come his way. Travis is excited for his future and credits taking advantage of the professional development aspect of his course and the Learner Support Team to reaching this point of his newfound career path – just like Franchelis.
Per Scholas Celebrates ActivateIT Graduation and Generosity in Denver
ActivateIT, Powered by Per Scholas, has much to celebrate this August! This month, our Denver campus commemorated their fourth graduation and officially celebrated the campus’ launch at this in-person event. Per Scholas’ Chief Impact Officer Bridgette Gray served as the keynote speaker at the celebration. After a year and a half and four cohorts later, ActivateIT, Powered by Per Scholas, has made its mark in the Denver community. ActivateIT is a program under Activate Work that addresses social problems with business solutions and connects underrepresented individuals with careers in financial services, business services, healthcare, skilled trades, and technology.
Twenty-six new IT Support graduates celebrated their accomplishments this August, twelve of which were present for this in-person celebration. More than a third are already employed in tech roles, nearly 50 percent are women, and, through our partnership with designDATA/Doyon group, four joined our remote cohort from Alaska. An additional reason to celebrate comes from a significant contribution from a generous donor that had followed the experience and stories of our learners and wanted to grant them an opportunity to start building real wealth. Each of our graduates will receive $1,500 to contribute to a Roth IRA once opened, and also committed to doing the same for all of our ActivateIT graduates for the next five years. Such a generous and inspiring gift ties into our vision to not just connect graduates to careers, but to build and grow wealth.
Since its inception, ActivateIT has been led by Managing Director Kathryn Harris to advance economic mobility in Denver. In addition to tuition-free training, Activate Work provides alumni services through twelve months of post-placement coaching that works on extending career development, choosing their benefits, and financial capability training. In Denver, our graduates’ average wage was $20 per hour last year and is now up to $25 per hour. Describing this graduation celebration, Kathryn noted, “We really wanted it to be to celebrate all our graduates, thus far, and our current alumni and also to bring in our funders and bring in prospective funders, employers, and hiring managers.” Kathryn also mentioned that seeing all of the graduates together put the whole cohort into perspective. “I think what I am just constantly amazed by during this time of remote learning is how much support, love, and consideration is built between these cohort members. Being together, getting to showcase and recognize how much work our learners have done, and how much they have accomplished was phenomenal.”
One graduate that landed a career after graduation and has seen the impact of his tech training is Marco Vasquez. Marco graduated in August 2021 from the IT Support course and is now an IT Technician. “Per Scholas definitely helped me in not only getting the technical knowledge, but they also prepared me to be an excellent professional,” he reflects. “IT is an industry that is going to be growing nonstop. There are so many opportunities – this is just the beginning, and I plan on getting more certifications.”
We are excited for our IT Support graduates from Denver’s ActivateIT, Powered by Per Scholas cohort and were happy to celebrate the ActivateIT graduation. We know that they have the skills, knowledge, and hands-on training to excel in their IT roles and will continue to succeed in the IT industry. To learn more about ActivateIT, check them out online.
Expanding Tech Training in Texas
According to CompTIA’s most recent Tech Jobs Report, Dallas-Fort Worth is among the top metropolitan areas in the nation for the largest number of technology positions. Per Scholas Dallas has long been training and placing diverse Dallas County talent in a variety of these roles, but demand for tech talent continues to grow, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of a recent, generous investment from the JPMorgan Chase & Co., our Per Scholas Dallas campus is now expanding recruitment and enrollment efforts to include learners from neighboring Collin and Tarrant Counties to increase tech training in Texas.
Sixty diverse learners from Collin and Tarrant Counties will have the opportunity to enroll into remote IT Support, Software Engineering, and Cybersecurity training cohorts to begin this November. The grant will also enable Per Scholas Dallas to grow staff capacity and strengthen relationships with employer partners, ensuring that upon graduation, learners have the opportunity to pursue high-growth careers in tech in the region.
“JPMorgan Chase believes it is imperative that our leading corporations work closely with nonprofits and government agencies to help learners of all ages realize their full potential in school — and in life,” said Michelle Thomas, Dallas-based Vice President of Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase.
To date, Per Scholas Dallas has enrolled 85 learners in a variety of tech courses this year, and, including support from this grant, is on track to train 170 learners in 2021. The majority of graduates have gone on to pursue careers in technology, with a handful of graduates hired into roles at JPMorgan Chase’s Dallas-Fort Worth Campus.
“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support from our friends at JPMorgan Chase. This latest investment will enable us to grow our offering to talented individuals who are excited about pursuing a career in technology, one of the highest-growth sectors in our region,” said Stephanie Valadez, Per Scholas Dallas Managing Director. “Since 2015, we’ve been humbled to train more than 1,000 incredible technologists, making a difference for individuals, their families, and their communities. I’m thrilled that we can now train even more learners from neighboring Collin and Tarrant counties as tech demand in our region continues to grow.”
To learn more about upcoming courses offered by Per Scholas Dallas or to hire Per Scholas graduates, please visit PerScholas.org/Dallas.
How to Start Your IT Career
In a time when the job market is uncertain, one thing remains constant – IT roles are evolving and available. If you come from a different industry background or always had an interest in tech but no idea how to start your IT career, we have a few suggestions. For example, you could start with our Tech Support Associate training, powered by Infosys, or get in contact with our recruiting team with any questions that you may have. Here’s a quick guide on how to jumpstart your IT career and open doors in the tech industry.
1. Research Different Tech Industry Careers
If you find yourself not knowing where to begin when it comes to starting an IT career, you can start by doing some research. A quick browse for tech industry careers will not only help you determine what route you’d like to take, but it will also show you the many different paths you can take in tech. The possibilities are endless and all start with jumping in head-first.
2. Contact Per Scholas’ Recruitment Team About Starting Your It Career
You have questions; we have answers. For twenty-five years, Per Scholas has been advancing economic equity through rigorous training for tech careers as well as connecting our diverse and skilled graduate talent to leading businesses. With that much experience, we are happy to help answer any questions you may have as you launch your career in tech. Contact our Recruitment Team with your interest so we can figure out how to get you started at one of our IT training campuses.
3. Apply for our Tech Support Associate Training
With so many options available with our tech training tracks, we recommend starting with our Tech Support Associate training, powered by Infosys. This course, in particular, is great for getting your foot in the door in tech and learning IT fundamentals across various technology tracks including Mainframe, Infrastructure Operations, ServiceNow, and Application Support. No matter your previous experience in tech, Per Scholas makes sure you are caught up to speed and have the skills needed to launch your career in tech to land in one of the many IT roles available – as with any of our courses.
4. Get an IT Certification
An IT certification doesn’t just look good on your resume; it helps translate your training and skills into real-life applications in your career. Per Scholas not only prepares learners for certifications and an IT career, but we provide tuition-free training and pay for certifications under the completed course. With certifications and your tech skills, we know you will have the tools to start your IT career.
5. Network with Top Tech Industry Professionals
Networking does not get enough credit when it comes to its impact on launching your career. In a time where it’s not just what you know but who you know, networking is key to a career change or next step. We suggest networking with industry leaders in a position you aspire to be in and picking their brains on different IT roles, opportunities, and what they did to get where they are in their careers. At Per Scholas, we connect our learners with tech industry professionals through mock interviews, company partnerships, and other professional development opportunities to ensure our learners have the chance to speak to others in the industry.
It takes time and effort to launch a career in tech – no matter your background in IT. Making a career change or starting fresh in a new industry is a big deal that takes a lot of consideration, but with the right tools, training, and IT fundamentals, taking that first step towards one of many IT roles isn’t so daunting. To get started on your own IT career, be sure to apply to one of our upcoming courses.