SPRINGFIELD — Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rachel Kaprielian recently sat in on the first class of students at Tech Foundry, a new workforce-development program that will recruit, train, and place urban high-school students, unemployed college graduates, and veterans in jobs within the high-tech industry in the Pioneer Valley.
Tech Foundry is just one of a number of organizations participating in the Commonwealth’s YouthWorks program, which subsidized jobs and training for more than 4,800 at-risk teens and young adults in 31 communities this summer.
“This is the kind of innovative use of YouthWorks funding that the Patrick Administration would like to see replicated across the state,” said Kaprielian. “Tech Foundry partnered with the Hampden Regional Employment Board (REB) and New England Farm Workers’ Council, which operates the YouthWorks program in Springfield, to introduce these students to in-demand careers and fill the shortage of computer-science professionals in Western Mass.”
Kaprielian shadowed 17-year-old Arian Richardson, one of 22 students in the inaugural class who is taking classes and earning ‘badges’ in hard and soft skills to set them up for entry-level jobs in the tech industry. The high-school students are learning how to dress professionally and interview, as well as basic computer science like scripting and network management. In between classes, the students intern at local tech firms.
“I know that successful business leaders have to know much more about technology than ever before to be competitive in their industry,” said Richardson. “I want to learn technology so that I can be a better leader down the road.”
Added Delcie Bean, president of Tech Foundry and owner of Paragus Strategic IT, “we believe our approach to badge-based learning combined with a curriculum that is 100% driven by regional employers is a unique model that is not only going to someday make Springfield a large employer of IT talent in the country, but also serve as a model for other industries. We are incredibly grateful to have such a great relationship with the REB and Farm Workers’ Council.”
David Cruise, executive director of the Hampden Regional Employment Board, noted that “Tech Foundry represents an innovative opportunity for students to experience a summer of work and learning that exposes them to educational and career pathways in a high-demand industry. The REB is excited about this partnership with Tech Foundry and looks forward to expanding its partnership going forward.”