Program provides free work training and job placement for young adults and veterans
By Kamala Kirk
A new tech training program launched in Los Angeles County this month that provides tuition-free work training and job placement for young adults and military veterans. Funded by Microsoft and national nonprofit NPower, the expansion of the six-month training program into LA comes following the success of its San Jose program.
“NPower was originally founded in 2001 by Microsoft as a managed service provider of tech support for nonprofits around the country,” said Chris Starling, executive director for NPower California.
“NPower was incorporated and began offering tech training to youth who could deliver these support services to nonprofits and beyond. Later the focus shifted to tech training and follow-on job placement. To date, we’ve served over 6,400 students from nontraditional pathways and diverse backgrounds.”
After receiving a grant from Microsoft, the program was able to expand to LA County in October. NPower also has a location in San Jose, CA, along with cities in six other states nationwide including Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Texas.
According to Starling, the IT Support Specialist Program is for aspiring IT professionals at the beginner and intermediate level. Students can expect to master the basics of network infrastructure and troubleshooting. 18 weeks of instructor-led virtual training are followed by paid internships, project-based learning experiences or placement into a full-time tech job. The course culminates with the comprehensive reviews before testing to earn industry-recognized certifications including Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure Fundamentals. Along with technical training, students also receive mentoring, professional development workshops, ongoing social support services, and most importantly, job placement assistance.
“Through skills training, real world experience, support and mentorship, NPower graduates launch tech careers and embark upon pathways to financial freedom for themselves and their families,” Starling said. “Many of our graduates go on to work in IT jobs such as systems administrator, desktop support specialist, support analyst, IT help desk technician, desktop administrator or cloud administrator.”
Classes are limited to about 50 students per class in order to provide the optimal amount of individual support and attention they need to succeed in the program.
“Becoming an IT professional has been one of my goals since I fell in love with computers,” said Su Lei Aye, a San Jose graduate of the program. “NPower taught me not only the hard skills of computer systems, but also the soft skills of communicating with people professionally. I was a freshman in college when I found out about NPower. I decided to join the program even though I was still enrolled in school, I can definitely say that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. NPower introduced me to amazing people and helped me open up. I learned valuable skills at NPower that college couldn’t teach me.”
The IT Support Specialist Program is available to young adults ages 18 to 25, as well as veterans and military spouses of all ages. Information for all of their locations and course offerings can be found on their website. Currently, NPower is accepting applications for Spring 2022 and applications are considered on a rolling basis.
“NPower is continuously recruiting for our next cohorts and prospective students are encouraged to reach out to us directly by email or phone,” Starling said. “Combining veterans and young adults in the same cohort is very special because the veterans provide leadership and mentorship while the young adults help the veterans with their transition back to a civilian career.”