As CEO of ProTech Systems, one of the top talent and technology companies in the Mid-South, Steve Bargiacchi knows first hand just how high the industry’s job growth rate is likely to reach over the next 5-10 years. He can easily see just how large a role technology and technology knowledge could play in the lives of the Mid-South’s large population of at-risk children.
Not only would access to technology put these youths on a level playing field in school, it could very well be the spark that ignites them to want to learn or the stepping stone that leads to a career choice in a growing industry.
When this inspired Bargiacchi to do something, he joined up with some other like-minded organizations to put a plan in action. In collaboration with Tech901, Regions Bank, the Building IT Futures Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, a unique IT Training program at BGCM’s Juice Plus+ Training Center was born.
Earlier this month, this team of collaborators, along with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and more than 100 guests, got a first-hand look at the fruits of their labor as they gathered at the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Juice Plus+ Technical Training Center to celebrate the accomplishments of the inaugural IT Training Program.
The program, which is provided free, has two primary goals:
- Helping participants land their first paid computer tech role — putting them on a path to a computer technology career
- Inspiring these youths to become solid, productive employees who will help address the IT skills gap currently found in Memphis
“Success for this program will be measured by kids having IT careers and employers gaining some great employees,” says Bargiacchi.
The classes are held for two hours a day after school, four days a week. Students enrolled will be prepared to become A+ certified, a computer technician certification that many local employers require for entry-level jobs in the IT industry. The classes provide area high school students internships and opportunities to enter the IT career field immediately if they choose, whether part time or as a full-time career. BGCM Teen Club members also get a $200 stipend to cover their travel expenses to and from the classes. They also get plenty of mentoring from area professionals.
Guests at the celebration were given tours of the Technical Training Center, which in addition to IT, offers training in logistics, automotive, welding, and culinary. Guests got first-hand experience of the training with a dinner prepared by the culinary students under the leadership of guest Chef Ben Smith of Tsunami.
Memphis corporations in attendance included but were not limited to FedEx and FedEx Tech Connect, nexAir, First Tennessee, AT&T, Regions, Methodist LeBonheur, Service Master, Workforce Investment Network, Shelby County Schools, Christian Brothers University, Greater Memphis Chamber, Dell, and more, all of whom have joined in the efforts to make the program a success.