Tech Foundry Utilizing MassTech Grant to Expand IT Training Opportunities in Western Massachusetts

Source 
The Innovation Institute
Friday, June 14, 2019


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Photo of 3 people sitting (Rep. Wagner, Patrick Larkin and Carolyn Kirk of MassTech) at a desk addressing a group with Tech Foundry and Innovation Institute at MassTech banners in the background.

Tech Foundry Utilizing MassTech Grant to Expand IT Training Opportunities in Western Massachusetts

$50,000 Award to Springfield’s Tech Foundry Has Increased Access for Students and Strengthened Organization’s Engagement with Local Employers Eager for Skilled and Diverse Talent

 

SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – Officials from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech), a public economic development agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, joined local elected officials today for a visit to Springfield-based Tech Foundry, an organization utilizing a $50,000 state grant to increase IT training opportunities in Western Massachusetts. The grant has helped fund the ‘Tech Foundry 3.0 Regional Pilot,’ which has helped the non-profit build on its core strengths and proven track record to broaden its reach and impact in the region, growing its IT training program that is helping address real-time employer demand. Through Tech Foundry’s increased collaboration with private sector employers that are seeking skilled workers, the organization is able to tailor curriculum that better trains its students to quickly enter the workforce upon graduation, thus strengthening the regional tech ecosystem.

The grant was made under the Innovation Institute at MassTech’s Regional Priority Grant program, an effort which funds programs across the state that boost regional tech ecosystems.

“Since its founding in 2014, Tech Foundry has made great inroads into the employer community and built up an impressive roster of alumni and students that are benefitting from its programs,” stated Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “The Innovation Institute’s grant has helped supercharge their efforts, allowing them to engage more employers in discussions about the skills their job openings require, incorporating that critical feedback into their curriculum, and graduating trained students who can immediately fill those open positions.” 

“These jobs are critical for growing tech companies in the region, but also for other organizations that have strong IT needs, which today includes nearly every company with networked computers, servers, or mobile payment systems,” said Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech. “The demand for these workers is very real and we’re pleased at how quickly Tech Foundry has ramped up their employer engagement and strengthened their programs to meet this need.”

The pilot program is driving increased workforce development opportunities in the Pioneer Valley and Western Massachusetts by:

  • Streamlining the recruitment and hiring process for employers who can secure a qualified and diverse tech workforce;
  • Providing training, work experience, and on-ramps in tech careers for job-seekers who will secure living wage jobs, advancement, and increased earnings in IT roles;
  • Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion of under-represented groups in tech (i.e. women, people of color, and “opportunity youth”) through new talent pipelines and ongoing support; and
  • Strengthening the regional eco-system of educational institutions and workforce development providers through industry ties and alignment for lifelong learning and stackable credentials.

During the spring 2019 pilot program, Tech Foundry trained twenty students through a ten-week bootcamp followed by an internship with employers ranging from IT firms that provide managed services for area businesses to large employers in manufacturing, education, healthcare, and human services.   Twenty-three industry partners participated as trainers/instructors, career ambassadors, and field trip sites. 

Started in 2014 by Pioneer Valley tech employers and other workforce, business, education and economic development stakeholders, Tech Foundry aims to address the regional skills gap in Information Technology and drive regional economic growth. During the roundtable, the non-profit’s executives, board members, program alumni, and employer partners highlighted the importance of the employer/training program connections, and the impact the expanded program has had on students and their career trajectory.

“With the support of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Tech Foundry has been able to continue to evolve to meet the region’s growing need for a qualified technology workforce and elevate under-represented groups into sustainable careers in IT,” said Dara Nussbaum-Vazquez, Executive Director, Tech Foundry

“I first heard about Tech Foundry through a neighborhood event to increase our job base so our community can grow,” said Antonio Girona, Tech Foundry Alumnus and now a Service Administrator at Northeast IT Systems. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something I wanted to do since I was a little kid.  Through my training at Tech Foundry and internship at Northeast IT, I was able to experience IT first hand which drove my motivation to continue in my career. I was hired out of my internship, and in less than one year later had already advanced into a new position that opened up in my company.  I’m currently taking classes towards my certification, and working with my manager on professional development plans so I can continue to grow in my career.”

“From our deep-seeded commitment to partnering with and serving our employers, to our badge-based curriculum, to our ramp-to-hire program, to our hands-on laboratory learning, to our philosophy on teaching students to become lifelong learners, and most importantly to the unparalleled diversity that is represented in our students, Tech Foundry has never been more relevant, more needed, or better positioned to make a difference,” said Delcie Bean, Founder and Board Chair of Tech Foundry.

“The Tech Foundry has helped solve a problem of finding qualified and passionate individuals as they prepare enthusiastic and committed candidates for the evolving local technology workforce needs,” stated Andrew Anderlonis, President of Rediker Software. “Rediker Software has now hired 14 graduates from the program and is invigorated by its continued partnership with a great organization like the Tech Foundry in our local Western MA community.”  

“As a student of the current spring 2019 class, Tech Foundry has been a life-changing experience for me,” said Damaris Ortiz, Tech Foundry Spring 2019 Student and Intern, Savage Arms. “It has allowed me to receive hands on training and connected me with an internship to build my resume and get the work experience I need to succeed.”

“Tech Foundry is a social looking glass that reflects our diverse communities in Springfield and Western Massachusetts,” said Patrick Streck, Tech Foundry Board Member and President of BaytechIT. “Unfortunately, that diversity is not mirrored in the modern technology workforce. Tech Foundry is disrupting this reality by producing technologists that readily enter the information technology field. As an employer partner, my now predominantly bilingual service desk staff has approached me seeking to offer ‘oprima numero dos’ so that we can support our Spanish speaking clients in their first language. This doesn’t happen without the skilled graduates of Tech Foundry that are now on our staff.”

The Regional Priority Grant Program managed by the Innovation Institute at MassTech represents a creative and comprehensive approach to support innovation-based economic development across the Commonwealth. Rather than supporting individual projects that benefit only project stakeholders, the program is committed to seeking out and supporting exceptional initiatives capable of benefitting a region, industry cluster, or other ecosystem, or the state as a whole. 

“MassTech has been a significant partner in workforce development and technology advancement in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Joseph Wagner. “This grant money, authorized by the legislature, will help train talented workers in the field of IT, and grow new jobs and investments in Western Massachusetts.” 

Other grants provided under the Regional Priority Grant program include an award to the startup incubator Lever, Inc. in North Adams to boost entrepreneurs and innovative startups in the Berkshires, an effort also supported by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, MassTech’s sister agency.

The Innovation Institute also supports the growth of innovative startups across the state through the Entrepreneur Mentoring initiative, a multi-year effort to build regional start-up ecosystems and communities of innovation across Massachusetts. The Institute also invests in critical infrastructure through the Collaborative Research Matching Grant Program, which has invested over $20 million, along with millions in outside matching contributions, to support large-scale, long-term projects that hold the potential to spur innovation, promote cluster development, and grow jobs statewide.

###

About the Innovation Institute at MassTech

The Innovation Institute is the entity that advances a core mission of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative: improving the conditions for innovation and cluster growth across the Commonwealth.  Created in 2003, the Innovation Institute intervenes in the economy in the following four ways:

  • Conducts research and analysis that improves the states understandings of unmet needs and opportunities in the states innovation economy;
  • Serves as convener and key strategic broker on the landscape;
  • Manages high-value projects on behalf of the Commonwealth; and
  • Makes strategic investments in support of innovation-based economic development. 

In addition, the Innovation Institute provides support for priority industry clusters such as Big Data, Advanced Manufacturing, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cybersecurity, and Robotics; supports cluster growth through university investments; and manages specialty funds such as the Entrepreneur Mentorship Initiative, and the Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) Program. For more information visit https://innovation.masstech.org/