Community partners joined together on May 24 to celebrate the opening of the Milwaukee TechForce Training Center at 1916 N. 4th Street. The Center is a new education, training and workforce development facility designed to connect individuals to rewarding and in-demand careers in technology fields.
Located on Milwaukee’s near north side and close to public transportation, the Milwaukee TechForce Training Center will provide thousands of nearby households and residents from throughout the city with easy access to its educational programming.
“We need more ways to connect people to available jobs, and the Milwaukee TechForce Training Center is an important new link in the pathway to in-demand tech fields,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “TechForce is a new home for training and workforce development opportunities in Milwaukee.”
The Center is supported by an innovative partnership between the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM), Adult Learning Center (ALC), Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), Employ Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Featuring new classrooms and teaching technology, TechForce is co-located with the ALC to provide direct pathways for graduates of ALC’s adult basic education programs into the technology-focused programs of MATC, Employ Milwaukee, MPS and other partners.
HACM developed the Center after winning a competitive $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2012 to build a training center that would expand educational opportunities for Milwaukee residents. HACM approached ALC and its landlord, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, about renovating the Learning Center’s second floor into classroom space and adding a new entrance, study areas and administrative offices.
“We sought to maximize the impact of this investment by building off of the Adult Learning Center’s established program and developing a new, multi-tiered partnership focused on tech jobs,” said Tony Pérez, HACM Secretary-Executive Director. “This partnership creates a single pathway for adults of all educational levels to enter the tech workforce.”
“The key to this project is the key to all of the problems that we need to address as people of this city, and that is collaboration,” said Archbishop Jerome Listecki. “When we bring the Church together with government and other organizations to provide access to education, we make a difference for the common good.”
Each founding partner will provide services to support the TechForce Center mission of connecting residents to jobs in the tech industry:
- ALC will provide adult basic skills education and GED preparation services.
- MATC will oversee IT education and training, using a blended classroom and online teaching model to provide participants with a career pathway laddering process than can lead to a technical certificate or associate degree program in IT or Office Technology.
- Employ Milwaukee will work with the MATC staff to coordinate the employment and skills development and workforce readiness training.
- MPS will provide a summer camp experience to provide middle school youth without technology or with limited access to technology in the home an opportunity to learn computer and career skills in technology fields.
“Milwaukee Area Technical College is proud to collaborate with so many valued community partners on the TechForce Training Center and to provide education and training in neighborhoods where men, women and children can benefit from these new opportunities,” said MATC President Dr. Vicki Martin. “There is high demand from employers for Information Technology professionals and the TechForce Training Center will help prepare area residents for these career opportunities.”
The training center will support Milwaukee’s efforts as a new “TechHire Community,” part of the White House’s TechHire Initiative to train U.S. workers for jobs in tech industries. Milwaukee’s initiative aims to train and place 150 people into technology jobs by 2017 with an increase to 600 by 2020. The TechHire workforce initiative will be led by Employ Milwaukee, Inc. in partnership with employers across industries and employer consortiums.
“I’m excited about this outstanding collaboration. Every high growth industry sector needs a strong IT workforce,” said Earl Buford, President and CEO, Employ Milwaukee. “The TechForce Center is an excellent example of how Milwaukee will put individuals on a career pathway in technical occupations.”
Over half a million of today’s open jobs are in technology fields like software development and cybersecurity—many of which did not even exist a decade ago. The average salary in a job that requires technology skills is 50 percent more than the average private sector job.
There are an estimated 2,200 tech jobs available in the Milwaukee area.
“The TechForce Training Center has the potential to transform lives by bridging the technological divide,” said ALC Executive Director Herb Hayden. “Learners from neighborhoods throughout the city will be able to develop new technology skills to obtain family-supporting jobs and become strong economic contributors to their community.”
In addition to comments from each of the TechForce Center partners, the grand opening featured a moving testimony from ALC graduate and incoming MATC student Ann Perry, an electronic ribbon cutting using a digital app on iPads, and a blessing of the building by Archbishop Listecki.
Education and training at the Milwaukee TechForce Training Center will begin in June with MATC computer/math basics courses, as well as Employ Milwaukee’s workforce development training for over 200 youth who are participating in the summer Earn & Learn program. To register for the MATC course, call 414-297-8479.