OCC’s short-term training program changes the path for former customer service representative.

Jack Halsted had worked a handful of jobs after he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and a digital marketing certificate. He ultimately decided he was more suited for roles that didn’t have so much gray area and wanted a job with more defined parameters. He had some conversations with his cousin and roommate who both worked in the Information Technology field. They inspired him to look further into IT services and consider pursuing a career in the industry.

Before starting the training at OCC, Halsted was a Customer Service Representative working in a call center. According to research, provided by Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN), Customer Service Representatives in Oakland County earn a median wage of $18.63 per hour, and the position is projected to decline by 10% between 2020 and 2030. Halsted wanted to take the experience he had with helping customers and team members resolve issues – and pursue a job in technology, so he did some research and signed up to attend a 30-minute information session for OCC’s Computer Support Technician training program.

During the OCC Computer Support Technician information session, Halsted learned the program focuses on key skills needed for IT positions such as customer service, writing, basic IT knowledge, and career readiness. Not only would he be able to continue helping customers, but he could do so with a meaningful increase in potential income and job prospects. According to research in 2023, WIN data reveals Computer User Support Specialists in Oakland County earn a median wage of $23.28 per hour, which is almost a $5 increase in wages, from a Customer Service Representative, averaging out to a monthly income of $3,724.80 or an annual salary range of $48,422.

He felt it was the right opportunity and started to work with the Oakland County Michigan Works! Troy office to secure funding for the training. His case manager, Charisse Ross said, “Jack had applied to many positions, after feeling stuck at a dead-end position. He felt that lack of relevant experience was a barrier for him.” What stood out for her was his pleasant demeanor and motivated attitude. Ross further commented, “He completed all the steps necessary to determine that he wanted to attend OCC’s training certification program to get hands-on experience and knowledge.” In mid-October 2022, Jack officially started the 10-week program at the Auburn Hills campus.

During the training, Halsted earned the NCSA CCSP Customer Service and CompTIA A+ certifications. His CompTIA instructor, Moustafa “Steve” Ido saw his potential. “He did a great job. The secret of his success is that he understood the material and solved the (TestOut) labs,” said Ido. Considering many entry-level help desk roles prefer or require the A+ certification, it made Jack a viable candidate for an IT entry-level position. Shortly after completing the training, he secured employment as an IT Technician at TEKsystems.

According to Deborah Bayer, Director of Regional Initiatives and Grant Compliance at WIN, Oakland Community College is on a progressive track to support students like Jack in their career endeavors. Through the WIN grant, commonly referred to as One Workforce Industry Infinity, OCC is well-suited to help students identify in-demand careers. “The purpose of this funding opportunity is to encourage and develop replicable, comprehensive workforce strategies for preparing the workforce for middle-to high-skilled occupations within key sectors, such as Information Technology (IT), advanced manufacturing, and transportation,” said Bayer.

In addition to the training, students have an opportunity to engage with employers. Classroom presentations, guest speakers with professionals from the field, student resume sharing with companies, and an interview day are incorporated with the training. OCC Program Coordinator, Jessica Knapik explains, “We have had multiple leaders in the field explain to us that having the technical background and aptitude is important. However, they will consider a candidate who has solid customer service skills, a true passion for the field, and eagerness to learn.” Knapik further states, “Jack is a prime example of someone who fits those criteria.”

Interested in starting a Computer Support Technician in Oakland County? Register now for an upcoming information session to learn more about the 10-week training program. The next training program begins on August 28, 2023. Questions? Contact Education Training Specialist, Le’Anna Sosnoski-Miller at 248.232.4174 or llsosnos@oaklandcc.edu.

Do you live outside of the Oakland County area and are you interested in pursuing a career in IT, Cyber Security, or Computer Support? Visit your Michigan Works! Agency to get started today or learn more about One Workforce Industry Infinity funding opportunities by clicking here.

About WIN:
The Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) is a division of SEMCA and a collaborative effort between ten community colleges and seven Michigan Works! Agencies. In partnership with numerous other organizations, WIN is working to create a comprehensive and cohesive workforce development system in Michigan providing employers with the talent they need for success. WIN covers a 19-county area, including Eaton, Genesee, Hillsdale, Huron, Ingham, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Tuscola, Washtenaw, and Wayne. WIN was founded with the support of the New Economy Initiative, has been recognized as one of the top workforce collaboratives in the nation by the U.S. Department of Labor, and celebrated 10 years of research, engagements, and solutions in August of 2021. For additional information about WIN visit winintelligence.org/about-us/.

About One Workforce Industry Infinity:
Building an Industry Infinity Supply Chain is a One Workforce grant funded by the Department of Labor (DOL), Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The purpose of this funding opportunity is to encourage applicants (WIN Board of Directors) to develop replicable, comprehensive workforce strategies for preparing the workforce for middle-to high-skilled H-1B occupations within key sectors, such as Information Technology (IT), advanced manufacturing, and transportation that are being transformed by technological advancements and automation. Grant funds have been allocated to provide curriculum development funds to WIN Community College Partners to update and create educational programs to upskill job seekers and professionals in the greater southeast Michigan region in related occupations within the industry through January 2025. 

Learn more about the author Jessica Knapik by clicking here.

This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The product was created by the recipient and does not necessarily reflect the official position of DOL/ETA. DOL/ETA makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it.

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