RACINE — The first information session for Start IT, a 16-week program aimed at getting 18- to 24-year-olds into the information technology field, saw only three attendants — but also netted three applicants.
The listening session, announced Wednesday evening in a press release, gave the few present Thursday afternoon at the George Bray Neighborhood YMCA, 924 Center St., the lowdown on the new program: starting Oct. 16, six hired participants will train in entry-level IT skills for 24-30 hours per week at $10 per hour.
Throughout the course of the program, the participants learn how to handle computer updates, antivirus and cloud backup for small businesses and nonprofits, according to Michael Polzin, CEO of Leeward Business Advisors, a technology and consulting company that is partnering with Racine County Workforce Solutions to present the program.
Southeast Wisconsin is primed to explode with IT job availability given the recent developments such as Amazon, Uline and possibly Foxconn, Polzin said.
Hopes to expand
A second session is supposed to begin soon after the first ends, but that is all the current funding accounts for. If Start IT proves successful, Polzin said, it should theoretically be self-sustaining after a year or two, allowing larger classes with more age groups.
“The goal is self-sustainability,” he said. “The customers are paying customers, at a reduced rate.”
No prior IT experience is required to join Start IT, and graduates of the program receive the nationally recognized A+ certification and credit at Gateway Technical College. The main prerequisites are critical reading, customer service skills and a willingness to learn.
“In tech, you don’t need to have 10-plus years of experience,” he said, noting how quickly technology advances. “It’s not at all like you see in the movies.”
After graduating from the program, participants could expect to make $24,000-$30,000 per year at an entry level position, Polzin said, but “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to a pay ceiling once IT workers move up the ladder a bit. It’s not unusual for the highest-level IT workers to make up to $150,000 per year, he said.