This post written by guest blogger Stephanie Cuskley, CEO of NPower
Today marks the first day of NPower Canada’s Technology Service Corps (TSC) class in Toronto, Canada, a program that will provide underserved youth with proven, no-cost training for skilled, in-demand information technology (IT) jobs.
As the CEO of NPower, Inc., the U.S.-based nonprofit that developed the TSC program, I am extremely proud to announce this expansion and I want to thank Cisco for being a part of the group of partners that made it possible.
NPower was founded in the United States in 2000, and since then has provided individuals, nonprofits, and schools access and opportunity to build tech skills and achieve their potential. The TSC program is one of NPower’s signature programs and to date has served over 1200 young adults and veterans, with more than 80% of alumni being employed or pursuing higher education within 1 year of graduation.
When someone from Cisco Canada called my office one morning and alerted me to the fact that youth unemployment in Toronto stands among the highest in the country, with nearly a quarter of jobless youth reporting that their biggest barrier to employment is a lack of marketable skills, I knew there was no question we had to expand north of the border.
This initial phone call was the result of a relationship NPower has developed with Cisco over many years. In fact, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers was one of NPower’s first Gala honorees in 2008, sharing his thoughts on Corporate Social Responsibility and the future of the IT workforce.
In 2011, Cisco Senior Vice President Woody Sessoms joined the NPower board and has been a key player ever since. Woody has been a champion of enabling young adults and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces to get the training, access, and opportunity to pursue careers in the tech industry. NPower’s TSC program also uses the world-class Cisco Networking Academy curriculum, and since NPower’s founding, Cisco has donated equipment, funding, and employee volunteering in excess of $1 million.
So, what exactly is the program that 31 Toronto students are embarking on today? NPower’s TSC program offers 15 weeks of training, including Cisco Networking Academy IT Essentials and preparation for A+ certification, along with professional development and life skills coaching. Hands-on learning is enriched by networking opportunities with tech professionals.
After completion of the in-class portion of the program, the students participate in a 7-week paid internship, which helps them become confident, marketable, and positioned for success. Graduates then receive job placement services, post-hire career coaching, one-on-one mentorship, alumni networking, and additional certification opportunities.
The Toronto community has been incredibly supportive and welcoming to NPower Canada. Eighteen community partners referred over 120 potential students to us during the recruitment process. We have now assembled a diverse, motivated group of 31 young adults ready to get started. With an average age of 22, over 35% of the participants are young women, which is impressive considering females are typically underrepresented in tech fields. Upon receiving his acceptance letter, one student thanked us and exclaimed, “It is my responsibility from here on in to perform the best I can.” We can’t wait for him and our other students to get started!
Today is Day One of our Canadian story – a story that, thanks to Cisco and our other amazing partners in Canada, has truly become a reality.