Memphis-area young adults have been given a rare opportunity this November to get a head start in a career field with one of the highest projected growth rates by 2020 – the tech industry. The classes will lead to CompTIA A+ certification, and be offered free of charge by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis, in collaboration with Tech901, Regions, the Building IT Futures Foundation, and ProTech, a Memphis-based technology solutions and staffing company.
Along with receiving a $200 stipend to cover travel expenses to and from classes, students enrolled will become A+ certified, a computer technician certification that many local employers require for entry-level jobs in the IT industry. The classes, which are held for 2 hours a day after school, four days a week, can also count as college credit should the students decide to go to college instead of immediately joining the tech industry. Either way, the classes provide area high school seniors a valuable opportunity to receive internships and enter the IT career field immediately if they choose, whether part time or as a full-time career.
“As companies come in, tech is more and more a part of every industry, every job,” says Steve Bargiacchi, CEO of ProTech. “When you get down to it, most businesses are going to need some degree of tech talent. It’s more and more about the data, how you message the data, what you do with the data, how you protect the data – everything goes back to that data and how you gather it. It’s all about tech.”
These classes at Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis are an initial step in a long-term, multi-faceted and multi-partnered plan to grow tech talent in Memphis. Bargiacchi, along with Tech901 founders, Robert Montague and Steve Denegri, are working on a dual initiative to persuade outside companies to bring tech jobs to Memphis while also overseeing the recruitment and training of area talent to fill those positions. “Having a thriving community of tech breeds tech,” says Bargiacchi. “If we can give them good employees that are successful and help them grow their business, then they’re going to be happy here and hire here. But we have to make the investment in the training first before the employers are going to come.”
Students enrolled in the class are also provided workshops on soft skills related to interviewing and resume writing. “When they get out [of the class], they should be able to have an IT career,” says Bargiacchi. “This could change their life.”