Charter Expands Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program: An effort to help employ vets

(courtesy of

Charter says it is expanding its five-state Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program to its entire 41-state footprint.

The program includes classroom—physical and digital—and on-the-job training with vets able to get GI bill benefits as well as a paycheck while training.

“Our commitment to an outstanding customer experience requires a devotion to craftsmanship among our employees,” said Charter president John Bickham. “The veterans who work at Charter are best-in-class when it comes to so many of the key attributes of craftsmanship: punctuality, attention to detail, resourcefulness and communication.”

Currently 1,000 Charter employees are enrolled in the program in five states, including Kansas City, Mo.

Missouri governor Eric Greitens, himself a former Navy SEAL, planned to be on hand for the expansion announcement in St. Louis Wednesday.

The ramped up training program also comes as Charter plans to hire 20,000 employees over four years as it repatriates Time Warner Cable call center jobs.

This Chicago startup is using apprenticeship to get low-income learners into tech

(Courtesy of

Apprenticeship used to be the norm for skilled laborers, where experienced pros would help train the next generation.

However, forms of teaching that were more adept at training large numbers of workers eclipsed apprenticeship, and now the practice is largely left behind. But one Chicago marketer is working to bring it back to life, with benefits for both clients and apprentices.

The Alliance Labs, which aims to bring down the cost of marketing for smaller firms that don’t have standard marketing budgets, utilizes the help of apprentices to build custom websites for clients.

“There’s a ton of work out there in the digital media space and there’s a lot business for organizations that are not charging $200 an hour,” said founder Jon Schickedanz. “There’s a lot of business for people that have got $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 budget ranges.”

According to Schickedanz, those kind of jobs aren’t really attractive to agencies that have a lot of overhead or freelancers who don’t have the time for lower-priced contracts. At the same time, there are a lot of people trying to break into the industry with “a little knowledge about a lot of things,” Schickedanz said.

The apprenticeship model helps with both problems. Clients with lower budgets can get professional marketing and communications solutions. The Alliance Labs apprentices, called residents, get to work on professional projects alongside the pros, using them to answer questions, catch mistakes and act as mentors as they grow their career.

Residents help by putting together WordPress environments, editing pages and putting together wireframes, while the senior talent works on higher-level tasks like architecture and art direction behind websites.

chicago IT program

Schickedanz said he developed the idea after realizing the gaps that existed both in the training pipeline and the marketing communications industry. He had been working with i.c.stars, the project-based learning program for low-income adults. While the model provided valuable training, graduates still often needed help to land their first jobs in the industry.

The Alliance Labs helps to continue their training with on-the-job experience. About three times each year, around five residents are selected from i.c.stars. Those residents take two classes per week for four months, building up skills and taking on client work along the way.

While the residents are drawn from i.c.stars grads for now, Schickedanz says he may open it up to other potential apprentices in the future.

Graduates of the program have gone on to take on their own design work for clients independently, further study design in master’s programs and even opened their own business.

And with tech companies looking for applicants with diverse backgrounds and on-the-job experience, future grads should be well-positioned for the wealth of marketing positions available in Chicago.


Do IT certifications still matter? IT certifications are a hot topic. But are they necessary?

(Courtesy of Computer World)

IT certifications are a hot topic. While the industry continues to invest in them as a way to validate an employee’s skill set and capabilities — and while they’re often associated with salary increases — they’re time-consuming and expensive to complete.

A new report by Global Knowledge, an IT training and learning services company, explored the value of IT certifications in its 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report. How does your experience stack up? Here’s a look at its findings.

IT certifications benefit the business

Being certified improves workers’ performance, the report found. IT decision makers and staff reported direct benefits of certification, including performing work faster (44 percent), having sought-after expertise within their organization (39 percent), implementing system efficiencies (33 percent) and deploying products and services more efficiently (23 percent).

They also benefit your wallet

In the U.S. and Canada, certified IT staff make nearly $8,400 more than noncertified counterparts — equal to an 11.7 percent pay increase. For IT decision-makers, the difference is slightly lower, at 8.9 percent or $9,200.

4 in 5 IT employees have certifications

Eighty-two percent of IT workers today have certifications, the report found, with each of those people averaging about three. Half of the respondents earned their most recent certification within the last year.


Certifications lead to more certifications

IT pros who are currently certified are more likely to be pursuing new certifications, the report found. Seventy percent of those who have a certification are engaged in certification-focused training now, or have plans to do so in the coming year. This compares to 48 percent for those yet to earn their first certification; essentially, less than half of those who aren’t certified have taken the steps to change this status, even though there are economic benefits to doing so.

Microsoft certifications are big

This year, 36 percent of respondents report holding a Microsoft certification — more than any other type of certification. Next are Cisco certifications, which account for 31 percent of respondents; cybersecurity or privacy certifications (26 percent); CompTIA (22 percent) and ITIL/ITSM (21 percent). The most popular certification areas include: application development, database, cloud, help desk, networking, operating systems and servers, Linux, cybersecurity and virtualization.

Moneymaking certs are in cybersecurity

Certifications in cybersecurity hold the top spots for salary. This year, six of the top 20 are cybersecurity certifications and four are listed in the top five: ISACA’s CRISC, CISM, CISA and CISSP. Top cybersecurity certification salaries range from an average of $110,634 for a CISA certification to $127,507 for a CRISC certification. The next highest moneymaker is in cloud computing certs — specifically those from AWS –which reported 27.5 percent higher salaries than average ($101,755 versus $79,796).

Higher salaries, better work performance, business support and the proliferation of certifications in the workplace all point to a worthwhile investment. With no signs of slowing down, it’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of their benefits.

Microsoft Offers Training: Active Duty Military and Honorable Discharge Service Members

(Courtesy of

Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA)

Transform your love for computers and technology into your next career. Microsoft provides transitioning service members and veterans of the U.S. military the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to meet the IT industry’s high demand for cloud developers, cloud administrators, and database and business intelligence administrators. Upon successful completion of the program, participants gain an interview for a full-time job at Microsoft or one of our participating partners. Microsoft is the first IT industry business to provide formal training for service members before their separation date.


mssa requirements Strong interest in an IT career.

mssa military badge icon Command authorization and current honorable service status.

mssa required documents Applicants should work with their Base Education Center and Transition Center to submit the following documents or proofs of status:

  • Copy of your service record for Education Center
  • Resume
  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Successful completion of high school algebra
  • Gain a Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification

 Applicants must meet the admission requirements for the academic institution administering the course.

mssa process icon MSSA is open to both current service members with a scheduled discharge date and to honorably discharged service members. All candidates must attend an MSSA Information Session at their Base Education Center and complete a screening interview with an education counselor.

mssa process  Active duty service members must:

  • Secure command approval to participate
  • Complete and sign an MOA and return it to the education office
  • Submit a resume, proof of honorable service status, proof of math requirements and financial aid applications (program voucher, GI Bill or FAFSA)
  • Begin thinking about your specific IT career path by reviewing Microsoft Virtual Academy training options (see Preparation section below).
  • Gain a MTA certification

mssa icon  Discharged service members must:

  • Submit a resume, DD-214 proof of honorable discharge, criminal background check, high school diploma or GED, proof of math requirements, and financial aid applications (program voucher, GI Bill or FAFSA)
  • Begin thinking about your specific IT career path by reviewing Microsoft Virtual Academy training options (see Preparation section below).
  • Gain a MTA certification

more information  Click the link below to be directed to Microsoft Military Training page to learn more. MSSA Training :

  • To learn more about MSSA or apply for the program, please contact your Base Education Center.
  • If you are not located at a base where MSSA is currently provided, please ask your Education Counselor or Transition Center representative to connect you to the Regional Career Skills Program Manager for options.
  • For more information, contact the MSSA Operations team at


The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.


St. Louis apprenticeship program for cyber security launches

(Courtesy of The St. Louis American/St. Louis Public Radio)

A new cybersecurity apprenticeship program is about to begin in the St. Louis region.

The Midwest Cyber Center is partnering with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, known as SLATE, to launch the 18-month apprenticeship.

The Cybersecurity Analyst Registered Apprenticeship is aimed at those who are at least 18, with a high school diploma or G.E.D. Midwest Cyber Center Executive Director Tony Bryan said they wanted to attract those with little experience into the field.

 “We’re really trying to find a much broader perspective of how do we get folks that are entry-level with very little experience in this space a pathway into it,” Bryan said.

The Midwest Cyber Center was founded in 2015 to address a shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Bryan said there are more than 200,000 such jobs will go unfilled in the U.S. this year.


The program will pair apprentices with businesses for 32 hours a week at $15 per hour and up to $24 an hour by the end of their time. SLATE has grants available that could offset the costs for businesses.

SLATE Executive Director Michael Holmes says it’s great for the apprentices because they’ll get on-the-job experience, as well as certification. But he said employers will also benefit.

“It gives them the opportunity to look before they hire,” he said.

SLATE will begin taking applications May 1st.



Local STEM nonprofit gets an academic boost, hoping to inspire more student’s STEM interests. Partnership between Jacksonville University and Renaissance Jax announced.

(courtesy of

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Renaissance Jax is helping lead the way in inspiring more Northeast Florida students to explore the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and now its impact will be felt even further with Jacksonville University as its Official Education Partner. According to the Renaissance Jax website, they aim to aid local children in their discovery of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in an enjoyable educational setting that inspires educational and real-world achievement. They support and sponsor children who participate in robotics competitions, and they aim to support 300 teams in Duval county alone.

A new agreement will bring academic and financial support to the nonprofit, which is the official Lego League Affiliate Partner for the national nonprofit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Renaissance Jax, founded by Mark McCombs, supports nearly 2,000 K-12 students of promise across 20 Northeast Florida counties as they take part in robotics competitions. Its goal is to have the largest number of competitive robotics participants per capita globally by 2021.

Jacksonville University will provide annual scholarships to five incoming freshmen who have competed in at least one full season on a FIRST Robotics Competition or FIRST Tech Challenge team during high school. The scholarships are awarded to students who intend to pursue an education in engineering, physics, computing sciences or mathematics.

“Renaissance Jax represents the leading edge of robotics competition, and we are proud to be its Official Education Partner,” said JU President Tim Cost. “This partnership aligns with our education goal of supporting organizations that impact and improve educational opportunities for Florida’s K-12 students. As Jacksonville University continues to intensify its emphasis on science, engineering, technology and related fields, we look forward to working with a true innovator like Mark McCombs to enhance academic rigor across the region.”


In addition to its financial support and targeted scholarships, JU will:

-Provide faculty/staff executive to serve on the Renaissance Jax Board of Directors.
-Develop Renaissance Jax internship opportunities for JU students.
-Conduct a comprehensive study on the impact of Duval County Public Schools student participation in LEGO League.
-Develop a multi-year survey to assess students’ attitudes toward STEM and academic achievement.
-Sponsor teams that have won the annual FIRST LEGO League Regional contest to help with their travel and registration expenses as they advance in regional and national competition.

JU has added undergraduate and graduate degrees in STEM fields in recent years, hired additional faculty and invested in new facilities as it engages with the community to produce work-ready and life-ready graduates. With a mutual desire to spark young students’ interest in educational and career opportunities in STEM fields – a priority for the region – JU and Renaissance Jax developed the opportunity to join forces to bolster efforts that bring students direct, hands-on experiences to explore their love for engineering, math, technology and science.

“The community that is growing around FIRST in Northeast Florida is amazing in the ways that they are fostering so many young people’s future opportunities and positive mindsets toward problem solving. JU’s $100,000 scholarship program is a bold statement of its support of FIRST and the work that Renaissance Jax is doing, and I know it will invigorate the pursuits of our high school students in our region,” said McCombs.

“The real story here will be the accomplishments of the students who come through FIRST locally and then build their lives in our community. The growth that will come from our FIRST alumni will be tremendous for Jacksonville and the rest of Northeast Florida.”

FIRST is an international youth organization founded in 1989 that operates robotics competitions. Renaissance Jax, which has held competitions at JU in the past, has a goal of supporting more than 300 teams and 6,500 students in the region by 2021 in designing, building and programming robots. McCombs founded the organization and has been involved in robotics himself since high school.

The new arrangement is designed to ignite the passions of even more students to become scientists, engineers and skilled workers, so that Northeast Florida is attractive when companies look to relocate here and see a large talent pool in math and technology, McCombs said.

Copyright 2017 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

STEM Education in 2017: Are Today’s Kids Prepared to Be the Future of Silicon Valley?

(courtesy of

Even if you don’t have kids, you should care about STEM education in schools. After all, our future depends on today’s students becoming tomorrow’s innovators and business leaders, and that means getting a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math — no matter what field they enter.

elementary school student

Dr. Melanie LaForce, Principal Research Scientist at Outlier Research & Evaluation at the University of Chicago, warns that all students need STEM, even if they plan to make their living far outside of the computer lab.

“All students should learn how to do some coding, even if they don’t plan for a career in [computer science],” she says, in a recent interview with PayScale. “CS education encourages problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as familiarity with emerging technology. In today’s world, these skills are absolutely critical for the workplace. The United States needs high-quality, publicly funded STEM education to remain competitive in nearly every industry.”

When we think of STEM, we shouldn’t see an isolated set of skills or even college majors. Nor should we relegate learning opportunities to electives and after-school programs. STEM should be integrated into every subject, every gender, and every group — especially those traditionally underrepresented in these careers.

“Learning code shouldn’t be exclusive to after-school opportunities,” LaForce says. “This is critical to ensuring all students, including those who may have less social capital, are exposed to CS and STEM.”

STEM Education for All

LaForce says that schools are finally starting to make stride integrating computer science training into formal public education. In the meantime, after-school opportunities have filled in the gaps. Newer programs provide education to students who typically have less access to STEM education. For example, Girls who Code, Black Girls Code, and the National Girls Collaborative provide opportunities targeted specifically to female, non-binary, black or intersectional students.

“Females are dramatically underrepresented in STEM careers, especially CS,” she says. “It’s widely documented that females often feel excluded or unwelcome in a cismale-dominated CS culture. Encouraging all students, especially those underrepresented in STEM, to learn code from an early age will start to populate a more diverse CS culture. We are beginning to see a slight increase in STEM career diversity, and by exposing students early, persistently, and with high quality — this will continue to improve.”

The Perennial Cry to Boost STEM

The U.S. lags behind in math and science scores. STEM education is at risk even in Silicon Valley. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group noted in a report last spring that “while Silicon Valley’s STEM talent is the most concentrated in the U.S., STEM degrees conferred from regional education institutions are growing more slowly than in other regions.” That means that in the tech industry’s own neighborhood, schools aren’t doing enough to promote STEM education. That’s a problem.

Per the report:

In 2015, only 49 percent of Silicon Valley’s 8th grade students met or exceeded the new state standards for mathematics proficiency, and there was significant disparity in proficiency by race and ethnicity. Only 20 percent of Black or African-American students and 21 percent of Hispanic or Latino students met or exceeded standards for mathematics in 8th grade, compared to 79 percent of 8th grade Asian students, and 66 percent of white students.

Where Companies Can Lend a Helping Hand

LaForce notes that tech companies can help fill in the gaps in STEM education, and should — especially if they expect to draw from the talent pool as they get older.

“First, it’s critical that public funds continue to prioritize high quality STEM education,” she says. “However, STEM businesses and organizations can support this movement by partnering with local schools. Employers can support STEM education by giving a talk about their job, bringing students in to see a rich STEM career experience in action, or helping partner with teachers to develop problem-based lessons relevant to the real-world.”


 Anne Holub
Anne Holub is a writer and editor specializing in composing and managing content for digital environments. She’s written about health and wellness trends, local city tourism topics, and all the great things going on that make you want to get up off the couch and explore the world around you. A passionate music fan, she served as the editor for a Chicago-based website’s music section for 10 years. She also makes excellent biscuits.


Sandalwood students to earn a diploma, degree, cyber job by senior year


(Courtesy of The Florida Times Union)

Students at Sandalwood High will get an academic and professional leg up on cyber security and other technology careers with a just announced partnership between Duval County Public Schools, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Deutsche Bank and JEA.


The way it works is some of today’s freshman will compress four years of high school into two years. Then in their junior year they’ll take college courses in science, math and technology, with a concentration in cyber security.

They will earn an associate’s degree in science and industry certification by high school graduation.

Throughout the four years, the students also will take regular trips to JEA and Deutsche Bank, where they will shadow employees in technology fields, receive “industry mentoring” and get access to summer internships.

After high school, they will receive priority interviewing for jobs at the two companies.

So far, eight students are in the program but the goal is to have 25 at a time, said Vicki Schultz, Sandalwood’s principal.

The program is part of the Duval’s overall goal to expand early college and STEM opportunities for students, connecting them with employers while they’re learning, said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, and it helps the district compete with private schools and others for high performing students.

“We are ensuring that our schools serve as a true springboard to successful entries into college and the workforce,” he said.

FSCJ: Information Technology Training Programs

Learn to design software programs, develop websites, and manage computer networking systems at FSCJ.

Do you want to develop the latest innovative application to improve our quality of life, plan and manage an organization’s IT infrastructure, provide hands-on computer and network support or even learn the techniques of computer hacking and investigate computer crimes?

Begin with an Associate in Science degree in Computer Information Technology, Network Services Technology or IT Security, or earn optional specialized technical certificates included within the program such as web development, computer programming, database development or computer forensics. After completion, you can pursue industry certification and employment or progress to a bachelor’s degree. Our Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunication and Information Technology Management provide a combination of important management skills with higher-level technical abilities. You’ll receive hands-on learning in labs which mirror the technology found in today’s corporate environment and receive real-world experience through internship opportunities. Advance your technological education at FSCJ!





New Horizons – CompTIA Certifications

New Horizons is an authorized CompTIA Platinum Partner provider of the most current CompTIA courses to help prepare you for CompTIA certifications or to advance your technology skills.

Deciding to work in the IT industry is an exceptionally good choice. Getting an IT certification can help you get started and get ahead in your career. The CompTIA IT Certification Roadmap can make navigating the world of IT Certifications a little easier.

Click the image below to download the full roadmap PDF.

CompTIA Training & Certifications

CompTIA is the world’s leading technology association. CompTIA advances IT professionals with successful industry-leading certifications and business credentials in the areas such as PC maintenance, networking technologies, and security.

The New Horizons CompTIA Course Collection provides training and support for all of the current CompTIA certifications including A+, Net+, Security+, Linux+, Project+, CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP), Server+, and more.

The collection contains award-winning courseware with breadth and depth across these critical technology subject areas, continually developed to keep up with the constantly changing requirements for the professional certifications. Our simulations offer task-based multipath scenarios to provide realistic practice of these critical technology subjects.

Top Five Reasons to get CompTIA Certified:

  1. Learn Skills to Get a New Job – CompTIA certifications assure employers of a candidate’s basic technology skills and prove you know how to get the job done.
  2. Preserve Your Job & Salary – As the economic landscape continues to evolve, certifications can lock you into tiered salary levels and prove expertise that stands above the rest.
  3. Ready to Change Jobs? CompTIA certifications help candidates qualify for new job opportunities, or advance your career in technology.
  4. Stand Out in the Resume Pile – Validated CompTIA certifications on your resume help you stand out among other applicants, giving you a greater opportunity for an interview.
  5. IT is Everywhere! IT skills are needed in most companies and there are simply not enough trained IT professionals to fill these jobs.