There’s still time to sign up for classes at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) for “EmployME!,” a two-year, continuing education program. The public-private partnership to prepare adults with physical disabilities for entry-level and advanced jobs in information technology has already graduated two of the eight classes scheduled at NJIT through March of 2009. A new, 18-week session begins Oct. 22, 2007.
“Call us. Even if a class has started, I may still be able to enroll you up to 10 days into the new session,” said John Sobecki, program manager. “We aim to enroll up to 20 people per class and sometimes unexpected openings occur.” For more information, call Sobecki at 973-596-5819 or email Sobecki@njit.edu.
The next session begins Jan. 7, 2008. “NJIT’s EmployME! program is quickly becoming recognized as a leader in the arena of disabled training and job preparation,” said Sobecki. “In adding our educational experience to our commitment to serve those with disabilities, we help people create a better life in their communities and prepare them to work in our New Jersey businesses.” Sobecki, a former businessman and consultant who specializes in working with disabled individuals, helped plan and spoke at The Governors Conference on Disabilities and Employment on October 11, 2007 in Trenton.
A $946,000, two-year grant from the Henry H. Kessler Foundation, of West Orange, provides overall support to the program. This involved outfitting NJIT computer training rooms with the state-of-art assistive technology tools and training materials to enable students with significant physical disabilities, including those who are deaf or blind. By spring 2009, 120 students will have been trained for new or upgraded jobs. At least 70 percent of the graduates are expected to obtain jobs.
“The curriculum reflects the demands in the industry for specialists in web technology and open source Unix administration,” says Gale Tenen Spak, associate vice president, continuing and distance education, and administrator of the program for NJIT. “Students will learn critical professional development competencies such as communication and soft skills, electronic communications and office productivity and document creation. Since needs and aptitudes may vary, participants will be able to select career tracks in office generalists, web technology and open source Unix administration.
“NJIT is one of the few places authorized to award national certification for the UNIX track program,” Spak added. “Computer-savvy students will be especially interested in pursuing this option.”
Program partners include the NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, the Newark and Essex County Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stop Centers, and the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which provide grants that cover the full cost of tuition for all qualified individuals. Other partners include companies throughout New Jersey who participate in a business advisory council that updates the curriculum, which is key to job placement; and Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
“Everyone participates,” said Spak. “Various departments and agencies of New Jersey and nearby counties help recruit students for training. NJIT Continuing Professional Education conducts the training and the NJIT Career Development Services provide individual career assessment, career fairs, advising and coaching, and arranges for apprenticeships and job placement. The career center supports and leads the advisory council. The Heldrich Center measures the benefits of participation for trainees and provides input for program improvement.
Candidates must be at a minimum 9th-grade reading and 8th-grade math levels, and either in the process of earning or possess a high school diploma or GED. The candidate must have a positive attitude, present him or herself in a business-like manner and show a level of workplace savvy. Computer skills are also required.
“We want to see people able to use a basic Microsoft Windows Operating System, access electronic material, save their work to a disk, retrieve information from a disk and create and manipulate electronic files and folders using Windows Explorer and various internet utilities."
The program includes an 18-week training course in which students study in the most modern computer-aided classrooms at NJIT.
"This is a jobs program which will match trained people with jobs that are in demand," said Joel S. Bloom, EdD, vice president of academic and student services and dean of the Albert Dorman Honors College at NJIT. "You have NJIT offering work force training in a growing industry for people who are often under-employed. You get to see companies stepping forward and helping a community they often want to reach, and you have a terrific opportunity for the state to step forward and offer its considerable experience and expertise."