Anjana Schroeder| Crain’s Detroit Business
UST Global’s workforce training program, Step IT Up America, is coming to Detroit.
The program is one step in reaching UST Global’s goal to train 1,000 African-American women students in 10 U.S. cities over a 10-month period. The Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based information technology solutions and services company will place trainees in positions within the information technology and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries.
UST Global believes women and minorities are under-represented in the IT and STEM workforces.
The demand for jobs in information technology in Detroit, according to the Workforce Intelligence Network quarterly workforce indicators, is the second-highest, next to retail, with more than 4,000 job postings between October and December 2013.
WIN’s workforce indicators report for Detroit report shows the top two IT jobs in demand are software developers and applications and computer systems analysts.
Step IT Up America started in Atlanta and Philadelphia and is to launch in Detroit next week, when companies and individuals will hear from UST Global officials, city and state officials, and trainees from the Atlanta and Philadelphia programs.
The official launch is 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit. There will be a breakdown of what the training program entails and its goals. UST Global officials will be available to interested individuals and businesses.
Washington, D.C.-based consulting company Albright Stonebridge Group is helping UST Global engage with the corporate community, community colleges, and governor and mayoral offices. According to Scott Jacobs, director at the company, participant selection is a collaborative effort with community colleges in the launch cities.
He said Wayne County Community College District expressed initial interest in the program. George Swan, vice chancellor for external affairs at WCCCD, said UST Global reached out to the college last month about a partnership.
Swan said Detroit is the “fastest-growing IT hub outside of the East and West Coast” and there is a significantly unmet need for IT professionals.
Individuals must have a desire to succeed in the program and have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. A computer-based assessment test will help determine a student’s aptitude and comprehension. Students will undergo in-person interviews with UST Global staff.
Swan said the candidate search has begun and WCCCD plans to reach out to organizations like Detroit Solutions Corp. to find eligible participants.
Jacobs said UST Global and participating community colleges will determine a marketing plan that will spread the word about the program to students and companies after next week’s launch. The program’s initial goal is to train and employ 100 students.
Swan said WCCCD will provide the instructors and facilities for training.
On top of the instructors, Jacobs said, a coach/mentor from UST Global will stay with eligible participants throughout the 90-day Step IT Up America workforce training.
Selected participants will go through a 90-day training program. After the training, all students are guaranteed entry-level positions at companies through UST Global service contracts. These positions will have beginning salaries of $28,000-$32,000. Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and the Detroit Lions expressed initial interest in the program, Jacobs said.
Jacobs said there is also a lot of interest and support from the public sector, including from Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
For Detroit’s launch, UST Global is looking for local companies in industries including health care, retail and financial services to set up service contracts for training participants.
After six months, companies will have a chance to hire any of the participants and no longer will have to pay on the contract.
Jacobs said UST Global chose Detroit as one of the training cities because“statistics in Detroit show how under-represented women and minorities are in the IT industry. And tech startups and initiatives around technology are in demand there.”
Michelle Welsh, managing director of marketing and communications for TechTown Detroit, said, “We realize that the talent gap won’t fill overnight, but a program like this can get us there faster.”
She said Step IT Up America and TechTown Detroit share a similar vision: “to attract, prepare and ultimately retain tech talent in Detroit.”
The training model used in the Step IT Up America program is similar to those used by UST Global in Mexico, India, Spain, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Those programs have successfully trained more than 20,000 college graduates globally — nearly 15,000 in India alone.
Businesses interested in participating in Step IT Up America program can send an email to StepITUpAmerica@UST-Global.com, attention: BG Moore.