APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The Bridge program is offered to individuals who do not meet the prerequisites which would allow them to be successful in the training classes and on-the-job learning of the wider CCT program. In general, CCT trainings require a 9.0 score on the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) math and reading and a 75 percent score or higher on the tests of basic computer literacy and Excel skills administered for program admission. The educational services for the Bridge will be delivered in a classroom setting and through individual online activity between sessions.
A small pilot of math and English skills training only was tested this past spring with 22 individuals and resulted in a 100 percent success rate. This is defined as 100 percent of individuals both increasing their pretest scores and securing scores that meet the prerequisites required for entry into the Chicago Career Tech training programs. The official launch will expand to 80 individual and include Basic Technology (computer literacy) component, which is a new and exciting addition to the program based on the recognition in prior cohorts that a stronger computer literacy foundation would improve the ability to learn the core material and improve certification test passage rates.
The students will retest again at the completion of Bridge which will provide a valuable outcome metric. Additionally, through their work with University of Chicago's Chapin Hall, CCT will monitor graduation and job attainment rates.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
The following is a work plan (date, activity and deliverable) for the first cohort of the CCT Bridge set to begin recruitment in August 2011. The second cohort will operate on the same timeframe, beginning recruitment six months later in February 2012, continuing the Bridge through May 2012, then matriculating to the CCT Program. Each cohort will include 40 participants.
8/1/12: Recruitment and screening of candidates for CCT program (approx. 1,000-1,500 pre-qualified candidates recruited for CCT).
8/8/11: Screening to identify otherwise-qualified candidates scoring below 9.0 on math or reading TABE and/or below 75% correct score on CPU and Excel tests (300-400 candidates determined eligible for CCT).
8/8/11: Identification of candidates requiring Adult Literacy and Math and/or Basic Technology Bridge based on scores (70 individuals requiring Bridge identified).
8/8/11: Orientation for CCT Bridge program participants (50 attend orientation).
8/8/11: WIA assessment and registration of eligible WIA CCT Bridge candidates (dislocated workers) (50 WIA eligible).
8/8/11: Development of individualized plan of Bridge training and services for each participant (42 receive individual plan).
8/15/11: Delivery of CCT Bridge program via instructor-led classroom as well as online components and access to 24/7 'help line' (40 to begin CCT Bridge).
8/15/11: Delivery of WIA career development, support and program retention services for all students in CCT Bridge program (40 receive services).
9/6/11: Completion by over 95% of participants of Bridge component achieving scores sufficient for entry into CCT full training program and/or community college, post-secondary education (39 complete Bridge).
10/15/11: CCT Bridge student matriculate into six-month CCT program (35 enter CCT training program).
6/1/12: CCT full program completed and CCT Bridge and other graduates begin process of securing employment.
Based on past experience, within six months graduates enter full-time, unsubsidized employment or pursue additional education using their IT skills (35 of Bridge graduates enter employment).
The IT industry sector continues to be among the most lucrative industries in Chicago. Both the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Chicago Workforce Investment Council's analyses indicate that healthcare and IT are the two largest areas of job growth in Chicago.
While IT and Healthcare are growing areas of unemployment and Cook County has approximately 230,000 unemployed, there is a skills gap between the positions being offered and the skills that the unemployed currently hold. As a result, Chicago Career Tech is positioned as an organization which offers in-demand certifications and opportunities for hands-on learning at businesses and nonprofits for eager, hardworking, unemployed Chicagoans interested in better matching their skills for jobs in demand.
Chicago Career Tech (CCT) is an innovative job retraining program for unemployed Chicagoans who are generally between the ages of 24 to 69, with roughly 50 percent of them only having a high school degree. CCT provides participants a six day a week, six month technology based program which partners with six highly-regarded training institutions to provide industry recognized certifications and 150 businesses and nonprofits to provide hands-on learning opportunities. Unfortunately, many eager applicants cannot qualify for the academic portion of the training due to low computer literacy or math and English literacy scores. The CCT Adult Literacy & Math/Basic Technology Bridge program focuses on providing unemployed Chicagoans with academic remediation necessary to prepare them for the CCT job retraining program, industry recognized certifications, and opportunities for employment in high growth areas in Chicago. Many unemployed Chicagoans do not have the basic math, English, and computer skills to begin a job retraining program in these technology areas and don't meet the basic prerequisites to enroll or be successful in classes or at on-the-job learning assignments provided by Chicago Career Tech. This Bridge program remedies this obstacle.
Seeking Partnership: Financial Resources, Media/Marketing Opportunities
Chicago Career Tech is in the process of securing funding to expand the math/literacy Bridge program and offer the new Computer Literacy program. As a result, financial resources are welcomed. Additionally, CCT welcomes the opportunity to share the early success of the small pilot that was tested and has not been publicized yet, as well as announce the newest Bridge program.
Offering Partnership: Implementing Partners, Best Practice Information
As an innovative job retraining program offered for an often forgotten population - the low and middle class, CCT welcomes the opportunity to share what they have learned about their partners. They are also happy to share the operational, programmatic and financial best practices for both CCT and the Bridge program for possible replication nationally.