Participants in the SVHEC's IT Academy now have an opportunity to train on datacenter equipment thanks to a donation from Microsoft Corporation.
The SVHEC is now recruiting for its Mechatronics Level 1 and Welding@SVHEC programs. Classes for both hands-on training programs will begin spring 2018.
Donna Conde moved from New Jersey to Halifax County in 2014 after experiencing some personal issues. "I immediately started my search for employment since I had always worked since the age of 10." A quick job didn't come to her, and nearly 18 months later she was still unable to find work. Conde turned to social services for assistance for her and her school-aged daughter. It was there she overhead a gentleman talking about the IT Academy (ITA) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC). The conversation sparked her interest because she’d always loved computers and had worked in IT for 20 years in New Jersey learning through on-the-job training. " With no luck finding a job in Virginia I knew I needed more education, and the IT Academy seemed like a perfect fit for me. When I left social services, I went right to the SVHEC and spoke with Kelly Shotwell [ITA program coordinator]."
After speaking with Shotwell and learning more about the ITA program, Conde was excited and saw an opportunity to turn her situation around. However, the program's costs, $2,700, threatened to send her back to square one. "I hadn't been working in years, and was depending on family for support. The cost was a major issue," Conde said.
The IT Academy, and other SVHEC workforce training programs, are not eligible for federal financial aid because they lead to an industry recognized credential and not a college degree. Fortunately for Conde, the General Assembly passed the Workforce Credential Grant Program (CGP) in 2016, providing financial assistance for individuals pursuing in-demand, hands-on workforce training programs like mechatronics, welding, and the IT Academy. For approved individuals, CGP funds provide up to two-thirds of the cost of training making training and certifications more accessible than ever before.
"I applied for the CGP Program funding and was ecstatic when I received help," said Conde. She enrolled in the IT Academy, and began classes in August 2016.