Program Provides High Schoolers Access to IT Careers

While some kids spent the past few months skiing and bowling in front of their Wiis or walking through the mall picking out the latest spring attire, more than 100 Chicago Public Schools students were preparing for an IT certification exam. On May 5 and 6, these students sat for a rigorous CompTIA exam, a move that will help them find gainful employment or give them valuable experience before moving on to higher education.

Roughly 650 students in six high schools participate in CompTIA’s Education to Careers (E2C). The program takes place as an elective during the regular school day and students can gain IT certifications. The program at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) engages students in two courses, A+ and Network+, teaching them the skills to pass the respective certification exams.

The program has been in place at CPS for about a decade. CompTIA began collaborating with the district several years ago to encourage new workers to enter IT. “CompTIA is interested in [getting new entrants into the field] for our corporate members who are looking for an ongoing pipeline [to] bring on board successful employees [for] the future,” explained Gretchen Koch, director of skills development programs at CompTIA.

“We work very actively with these communities and with these schools to [develop] an interest in young people in IT as a wonderful profession to pursue,” she said.

Charles Willard, CPS’ career cluster manager for IT, identified a number of benefits the program provides. First, it gives the students a meaningful…


Meagan Polakowski

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