Computer Training Leads to Better Paying Jobs

posted 3/31/17 -- Tech Connect students come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are reentering the workforce after raising children. Others are trying to improve their opportunities for promotion. Thanks to LCCAA’s Tech Connect class, they can now afford to support themselves.

LCCAA’s Community Learning and Technology Center was created in 2009 using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The concept built upon LCCAA’s experience with tutoring and GED testing.

Working with Lorain County Community College, LCCAA became a host for Connect Your Community in 2011. Although funding from the college ended in 2012, LCCAA continued the program.

Today, Tech Connect classes (four each year) provide improved computer skills over an 8-week course designed to erase career barriers. The program features small class sizes and successful completion earns participants a free, refurbished computer.

Before her children were born, Lynn worked in an office. When her children reached high school, she found work as a part-time cashier, but what she really wanted was an office job.

"Back when I worked in an office, we used Word Perfect and Lotus. I knew things had changed a lot since then." she said. "After raising my children I wanted to re-enter the workforce, but most jobs required basic computer skills in Microsoft Office."

Tech Connect is designed to erase the exact career barriers Lynn was confronting. Over 8 weeks, the course provides training in the latest software and skills needed for today's workforce.

Arun Singh has been helping Lorain County adults improve their job skills for seven years as the instructor of LCCAA's Tech Connect program.

"This is such a valuable program," the highly rated instructor said. "There are many people in need of computer training to create opportunities for employment."

Lillian Ortiz joined LCCAA's Tech Connect Class to "catch up on life," she said.

"I've been a caretaker to family members most of my life," said Ortiz. "Both my parents have passed on, so now I want to get back to work."

The small class size of 8 to 10 participants is purposeful to provide a better learning environment with more time for one-on-one assistance. Many participants begin class in fear of the computer and are glad to find a patient instructor, they say.

"I put myself in their shoes," Singh said. "We all feel the same way when beginning or learning something new. Some have never worked on a computer and don't know what a mouse is so they are scared of breaking something."

Successful completion earns participants a free refurbished computer. Since 2014, 94 individuals have gone through Tech Connect and the program has expanded through collaborations with Ohio Means Jobs and Women Employed, Educated and Empowered, a United Way project spearheaded by the YWCA to deliver the program at various sites.