Technology plays a central role in our lives at work, at home, and on the go. It’s everywhere, and interconnected with many different career sectors. This is why our technology program for young adults not only teaches relevant software and hardware skills, but also provides our YouthBuild students with a foundation in customer service, job readiness, and critical thinking skills that will help prepare them for the transition to higher education or for future careers that use technology in some capacity.
The young people that we serve are digital natives and use technology flawlessly in their daily lives, but many lack the specialized skills, training, and mindset needed to launch a career in the technology sector. Many entry level tech jobs require a level of formal education that incoming YouthBuild students, all of whom have dropped out of high school, haven’t yet attained. And many computer classes in Portland or other technology programs for young adults require a commitment of time or money that is simply out of reach for the students that we serve.
YouthBuild technology students spend half their month at the tech worksite. Guided by expert staff who have experience working in the industry, students enjoy practicing the principles of coding, seeing their creations come to life in the 3D printer, and learning the fundamentals of cyber security. Students work together to refurbish donated desktop computers and laptops, and learn principles of coding by operating VEX Robotics and Ardino microcontrollers.
Learning and job training take place in a real-world setting that mirrors an office environment, where our students are able to practice the professional skills and behavior that will be expected in their future careers.
Case management, counseling, and our relationship-based model of teaching all help to ensure that students receive individualized programming that meets their specific needs and goals.
Our method of holding students to high standards while also providing high levels of support really plays out in the creative world of technology. Computer classes and tech training are often an ongoing exercise in problem solving, and it’s easy to throw in the towel and stop trying when answers don’t come easy. We encourage our students to keep at it while providing them with all the resources they need until they succeed.
As students learn vital skills, they also provide valuable volunteer service to the community. PYB has established longstanding partnerships with organizations and nonprofits that provide meaningful community service experiences to our students. Some examples include mentoring older adults in the ever-evolving technology landscape, refurbishing hardware for repurposing in local schools and nonprofits, and leading science demonstrations for students at our local science center.
Our students graduate with industry recognized CompTIA and Microsoft certifications that can lead to entry level IT jobs, in addition to a GED or high school diploma, real-world work experience, relationships with supportive and caring adults, and gained confidence and skills.
Graduates of our tech training classes have a wide variety of career paths in front of them. Many of these students continue their education at coding schools, community colleges, or universities, while others pursue work in an office environment or the tech industry. Our technology graduates have gone on to work in fields as varied as IT departments, education, office management, and in manufacturing.
As with all of our programs, support from PYB doesn’t stop once our students graduate. Our graduates continue to receive long term support from their technology trainer, career coach, and teachers long after their time at PYB.