Many companies are looking for ways to develop their employees by growing their skills and helping them learn new ones. But sometimes, the people who most desire learning and experience are those without a company supporting their efforts: the unemployed and career changers who are looking to switch industries altogether.
Last week, Ryanair’s recruitment agency, Crewlink, made news with graduates complaining that they had paid for training and then didn’t get a job. Candidates hoping to gain useful tools — and eventually, a job — may have to look hard among the types of programs offered. In this new training market, scams are a risk for candidates, said Tom Wharton, managing partner at OI Partners Inc. in Rhode Island, a career transition and outplacement company.
“In the job market that we are in, there are a lot of firms out there trying to capitalize on people and charging them for a certificate that is meaningless to their job search,” Wharton said.
OI Partners works with dislocated workers and helps them to develop their competencies and get the experience they need to land on their feet. Often, these individuals don’t have the extra income to spend on training.
“We have access to many resources that don’t cost people money because I’m not going to refer my candidates to a program with no guaranteed outcome,” Wharton said.
Wharton said one such resource is state departments of labor, where a wealth of information is available to help people learn about their career options, develop their skills, gain experience and network. For entrepreneurs, Wharton suggests SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, run by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“These are retired executives who volunteer their time to help small business to get started with face-to-face mentoring — for free,” Wharton said. Often, a “don’t know what you don’t know” attitude can keep individuals unemployed and out of the job market for longer than necessary, Wharton said.
Some individuals, however, are not just looking for a job; they are looking for sustainable careers in a growth field, such as programming and coding. These can be career changers, or new graduates who just don’t have the experience and skills to land the job.
Brandon Passley, founder and “chief maker” of a programming training session called Mobile Makers Academy, created a program to provide that extra training to prepare people for the rapid growth of technology opportunities. Mobile Makers is based in Chicago and focuses primarily on development for mobile apps. He said the academy arose from the level of demand he saw in trying to hire programmers.
“I was running a company where I had to hire technology developers, and finding them was extremely difficult,” Passley said, “even students who have graduated with computer science degrees. They are taught theory but they didn’t know how to program.”
At Mobile Makers Academy, which Passley labels as an “extreme apprenticeship,” students are taught to develop products in 10 weeks of intensive training. The academy started in 2012 and has since graduated 100 students, 90 percent of whom found full-time jobs within three to four months of finishing the program. The students come from different backgrounds, about half have some computer science training and half are beginners.
The program is designed to accommodate different levels of technical proficiencies and give every individual a chance to participate in a real-world work setting with hands-on experiences.
“It’s been really amazing to see how many people from all over the world have pinpointed Mobile Makers as a place to go; we got such an onslaught of interest,” Passley said.
Mary Camille Izlar is an editorial intern at Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.