Companies looking for good I.T. help may not have to look any farther than their local senior citizens. Green Thumb [http://www.greenthumb.org/], the U.S.’s oldest and largest provider of mature worker employment and training services, just received an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand its I.T. training for individuals age 55 and older.
In today’s tight I.T. labor market, Green Thumb is tapping into a resource that has been previously ignored. “Green Thumb is showing that our seniors belong in the high-tech world,” says Alexis M. Herman, secretary of labor. “This program allows older workers to reach goals they may never have thought possible and gives communities much needed I.T. workers.”
Right now, Green Thumb operates its technical training program in Baltimore, Md., Austin, Texas, and Sacramento, Calif., through an initial $250,000 grant from the DOL, as well as financial support from Microsoft [http//www.microsoft.com]. The new grant money will allow the program to expand to 11 additional locations in nine states.
Green Thumb’s information technology program provides participants with I.T. training, job counseling, placement and support services. To date, the program has successfully trained 94 seniors for positions in the I.T. field. The training is part of the Microsoft Skills 2000 Initiative aimed at addressing the I.T. workforce shortage by recruiting and training new people for jobs in the industry.
“Over the years, the computer industry has grown up around me,” says Carole Watson-Cooley, a graduate from the Austin, Texas, pilot program and an employee at Dell Computer Corporation. “Thanks to the Green Thumb/Microsoft program, I am not only catching up with technology, I am continuing to learn in my new career in a fast-paced industry.”
Other Green Thumb grads have found jobs with employers their grandchildren’s age. Michael Hill, of El Dorado Hills, Calif.-based Systems, hired two Green Thumb Graduates from the Sacramento, Calif., pilot program. Hill, an 18-year-old entrepreneur who started Myriad Systems in his parent’s garage less than two years ago, discovered the grads through servicing Green Thumb’s computers and was impressed with their knowledge and the type of technology training they had received. Myriad Systems provides computer consulting and installation services for small and mid-sized businesses.
Over the next few months, the expansion of Green Thumb’s I.T. training program will include both urban and rural locations in Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas. The curriculum for these projects will prepare students for Microsoft Certified Professional certification, Microsoft Office User Specialist exams and/or CompTIA’s A+ certification.