Program Offering Free IT Training For Injured Veterans Comes To San Antonio | Texas Public Radio

Program Offering Free IT Training For Injured Veterans Comes To San Antonio

Dec 11, 2018

A free program to teach digital skills to San Antonio veterans launched by two tech non-profits began accepting applications Friday.

Cognizant U.S. Foundation and Computer Technology Industry Association will launch training programs in three cities — San Antonio, San Diego and Phoenix — while continuing a program in Chicago, at cost of $7.7 million. Creating IT Futures, CompTIA's charitable arm, will administer the training with assistance from the Wounded Warrior Project.

The free programs will educate both veterans and non-veterans using popular help-desk training programs from CompTIA. According to organizers, the training aims to bridge the gap in available of information technology employees. The field is expected to add 557,100 jobs by 2026.

"Most employers have recognized, especially in the IT industry, if you can bring experience mixed with certification, it's just as good as college education in a lot of things," said Lisa Fasold, director of marketing at Creating IT Futures.

Fasold said after completing the eight-week program, students are prepared for help-desk positions.

According to CompTIA, this certification, called A+, would usually cost around $5,000.

The initial class begins Feb. 25. After passing the A+ certification exam, students will have access to job placement services.

The availability of these kinds of jobs at Rackspace and H-E-B, along with the numbers of veterans in the city, were among the reasons San Antonio was chosen for the offering.

“Military people have the right training to fulfill most of those jobs,” she said. “Any type of military member knows how to problem solve. It’s built into their training.”

In San Antonio, Wounded Warriors will host the Creating IT Futures eight-week training program at its northwest side office.

CompTIA will provide $3.2 million in cash and in-kind donations for the project, along with $4.5 million from Cognizant’s Foundation. The total amount is intended to fund training at the four sites for three years.

Cognizant’s corporate half invested $100 million in the foundation in May to address the skills gap across the industry.

“It’s a very important, critical issue for us,” said Cognizant U.S. Foundation acting managing director Eric Westphal, who is also a senior director at the company.

Part of addressing that gap is bringing in people who hadn’t considered it before because of their economic status, which is one reason why it’s free.

“We want to try and remove as many of the barriers as we can,” Westphal said.

Paul Flahive can be reached at paul@tpr.org and on Twitter @paulflahive