Tech Foundry May Yield Better Workforce

Over the past several years, Delcie Bean has many made many headlines with his company, Paragus Strategic IT, one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country.
Soon, though, he may be securing headlines of a different sort, through an initiative he calls Tech Foundry. He’s already garnered one; see story on page 15.
But Bean’s not really after press with this concept, although he’ll gladly take it because it will certainly help him achieve his goals. Instead, he’s after a larger, better-qualified workforce from which to draw employees not only for his company, but for everyone doing business in this region.
And Tech Foundry sounds like a great start toward creating one.
In a nutshell, this new nonprofit agency is a training center of sorts that will be created on the long-vacant ninth floor of Harrison Place in downtown Springfield. It will focus on providing skills to meet specific employer needs, but also on giving participants a basic understanding of what’s needed to be employable in today’s technology-based economy.
Elaborating, Bean said that many of those looking to enter the workforce today lack not only the technical skills to work at a place like Paragus or MassMutual or Comcast, but also lack many of the basics. These include everything from an understanding of the need to show up on time to work every day to the so-called people skills needed to provide effective customer service and communicate with co-workers.
Beyond the basics, though, Tech Foundry will strive to provide those aforementioned specific career skills. And he means very specific, because this is what’s needed in today’s offices and factories, and what’s often missing from most job applications.
Bean draws an analogy between a manufacturer ordering a specific part and an employer putting in an order for an employee with a particular set of skills and certifications. It’s not a perfect analogy, because people are not nuts and bolts, but it’s an intriguing concept.
Tech Foundry intends to address all of the above, and with a host of constituencies ranging from high-school and college students to veterans; from career changers to the many underemployed in this region. And it will start in a few weeks with what’s being called a pilot program that will involve 25 young people soon to enter their senior year in high school.
They’ll be learning in space that Bean describes as “Googlesque,” with bright colors on the walls and funky furniture in the classroom, and working through the summer and into the fall and winter after school. When they ‘graduate’ in the spring, they’ll be placed with companies that have agreed to participate in the program.
From this important start, Bean can envision some dramatic developments, even a company like Google coming to Greater Springfield because of a workforce that could be defined with the two words quantity and quality.
Such an eventuality is probably many years away, but work with these 25 high-school students represents a strong start and a good degree of hope when it comes to addressing one of this region’s most vexing challenges — presenting employers — and potential employers — with a workforce that can help them grow and prosper.

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