07/06/2013 11:44 am ET Updated Sep 05, 2013

ITWorks Delaware Builds on Previous Successes

When Janelle came to the ITWorks booth at Sen. Coons' 2013 job fair in Newark, DE, she was at a major turning point in her life. After working for many years in tele-comm sales for different companies, she was hoping to realize her dream of becoming a Network Administrator and getting a chance to work with the technology hands on. When ITWorks staff described the program to her, she applied and interviewed on the spot. She started the next week, and went on to be the top performer in the class, earning both her COMPTIA A+ certificate as well as her Cisco IT Essentials credential. With these entry level certifications, she will be able to stand out from other applicants for entry-level IT positions.

ITWorks, a program of Tech Impact (formerly NPower Pennsylvania and NPower Delaware), is a free 16-week technology training program for unemployed and underemployed urban young adults, ages 18 to 25, which prepares them for an entry-level IT job and provides them with a pathway to a career in technology. Through the ITWorks program, the students get access to technical training, corporate class professional development sessions, access to some of the top minds in IT, earn a well-recognized certification in IT, and valuable experience inside a real IT department though an internship.

The program recently expanded to have a permanent presence in the First State. The ITWorks Delaware pilot class in Spring of 2012 was a great success, gaining the attention of people such as Gov. Markell and Atty. Gen'l Beau Biden.

ITWorks students are single, married, parents, working, unemployed, underemployed, with some college, with no college experience and from a variety of backgrounds. They all share a passion for the technology, but have many different interests within IT. They all share a drive to succeed, and a desire to improve their opportunities. Reid is a prime example of an ITWorks student who has blossomed and grown in his time in the program. "I often have trouble knowing where to start in something new, so I'm glad ITWorks was there to give me just the leg-up I was looking for" says Reid. He was placed in a five-week internship with the Girl Scouts of America, learning real world skills to compliment his classroom knowledge. He can now put substantive experience and credentials on his resume, increasing his job prospects considerably.

Many employment analysts have projected that jobs in the IT field will be in increasingly high demand over the next 5-10 years. While many IT jobs require two- or four-year degrees, most entry-level positions are focused on finding candidates who have industry standard certifications and hands on experience. ITWorks is able to help students attain both, starting them on their way to earning further qualifications and increasing their employment opportunities.

ITWorks Delaware wrapped up its second successful class at the end of June. Eight of the 16 students were either employed or had their internships extended with pay by the end. Preparations are underway for the next class, which will begin at the end of August.