Prince George's Community College [PGCC] officials plan to use a multi-million grant to give unemployed veterans and displaced workers fast-track training for opportunities in the information technology field.
The Maryland Higher Education Commission selected PGCC to receive the $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop the Information Technology Education & Career Pathway program. The goal of the non-credit program is to provide accelerated training in computer technology, networking and cybersecurity.
Rather than take two to four years to earn a degree, students can achieve IT certification in 16 weeks through the program.
The training will be directed at unemployed workers, veterans, displaced and disadvantaged citizens and victims of foreign outsourcing.
"Prince George's Community College is committed to developing a well-trained workforce to meet the needs of the county, state and region," said Charlene M. Dukes, president of PGCC. "The grant will provide instruction for in-demand technology fields that allow unemployed workers to develop the skills they need to expeditiously re-enter the workforce, and it can serve as a model for replication."
The grant allows the college to provide instruction through multiple avenues: virtual instruction, interactive simulations, online and real-world problem-solving challenges and collaboration between students and instructors.
PGCC also will seek to establish agreements with four-year institutions in Maryland to enable students who complete the program to continue their education and training.
Joe Martinelli, vice president of workforce development and continuing education at PGCC, said the first six months of the grant award period will be spent developing the programs and by summer 2013 it should be available to students.
Martinelli said that the Department of Labor identified the IT field as one in which jobs are currently available and will continue to be for the next five years. The training that PGCC will provide leading to certification will prepare individuals for entry-level positions.
"The main thing is that students will come out of this program with industry recognized credentials," said Martinelli, who added it creates a win-win situation for employers needing trained workers and the unemployed who need jobs.
He estimated that more than 100 individuals will directly benefit from the grant.
He described the program's approach as "innovative" and said that in some cases six courses will be condensed into 16 weeks of online training.
"It allows these people who have to train for a new career to come out with all the certifications to show they are qualified," said Cheryl Green, director of PGCC's Office of Grants and Resources.
The program is designed to expand education training options for veterans and displaced workers, Green said.
"It opens up a whole new world," said Green of the opportunity the program creates for participants.
Established in 1958, Prince George's Community College provides transfer and career programs that help students transfer to four-year colleges and universities and prepares them for the workforce. Each year, 40,000 students take part in more than 200 academic programs and workforce development and continuing education courses.