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Grant-funded pre-apprenticeship program begins journey for students interested in IT

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jul 08, 2021

At a time when IT jobs are in demand more than ever, College of Lake County (CLC) is providing pre-apprenticeship programs to get students interested and on a path to success.

CLC was one of ten community Colleges in Illinois to receive the Customized Apprenticeship Program- Information Technology (CAP-IT) grant from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) in 2019. The grant was worth nearly $200,000 for a four-year period.

Photo of the IT OfficeThe Career and Job Placement Center (CJPC) partnered with the college’s Information Technology (IT), Business and Social Science (BSS) and Workforce Professional Development Institute (WPDI) to create and implement IT pre-apprenticeship opportunities for students.

The funding from the grant also helped financially support students in the program with needs for school related things like books.

The college’s pre-apprenticeship program offers the IT Pre-Apprenticeship Bridge Program, the IT Rotational Pre-Apprenticeship Program and the Google IT Program as part of a pathway to get students set up for apprenticeships, and then ultimately employment in the workforce.

The Bridge Program, which first started in the fall 2020 semester, is a 10-week virtual program that is more of an introduction for students who think they might have an interest in pursuing an IT degree.

“The Bridge Program is a taste of IT for the students,” said Jared Verdejo, an apprenticeship program associate at the CJPC. “We’re able to talk about all of the options in IT the students could look to pursue.”

During the virtual sessions, along with talking about different sectors of the industry, guest speakers from IT companies in the area, including CDW, St. Benedict Technology Consortium and Accenture, speak to the students.

The Bridge Program is available to all students and doesn’t require any prior IT classwork or experience, while the Rotational Program, which started a year earlier in Fall 2019, is geared towards students who have already begun their courses in IT.

Students in the Rotational Program, which is also a 10-week program, work hands-on with the five areas of CLC’s IT Department: application development, core systems and infrastructure, cybersecurity, educational technology and technology support.

The grant also helps pay for an optional certificate program. The Google IT Support Professional Certificate is a 20-week program is CompTIA certified. It’s a certification for entry level IT jobs like help desk technician and support professional.

Along with the focus on gaining knowledge of IT and the skills needed to do the jobs, the program is also designed to create generally employable individuals.

“The Pre-Apprenticeship Program gives them the employability skills they need in apprenticeships and their careers,” said Dan Ortega, apprenticeship manager at the CJPC. “Working with and talking to employers allows them to know what these companies are looking for in prospects and more insight into what companies are looking for skill-wise. It's a foundation to be employable.”

Moving forward, CLC’s pre-apprenticeship program staff members are looking forward to beginning the semester with in-person events and activities, employment opportunities, class visits and such more with existing and future pre-apprentice.

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.