Education leadership are grappling with remaining relevant in everything from the programs and curriculum, to technology integration. Strategic investments are designed to elevate access, equity, affordability, diversity, and other persistent challenges within an industry that presents the all-important “foot in the door” to paying, viable and rewarding careers. As AIM Institute Vice President of Advancement […]
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Education leadership are grappling with remaining relevant in everything from the programs and curriculum, to technology integration. Strategic investments are designed to elevate access, equity, affordability, diversity, and other persistent challenges within an industry that presents the all-important “foot in the door” to paying, viable and rewarding careers. As AIM Institute Vice President of Advancement and Community Relations Itzel Lopez puts it, the pandemic has heightened demand for technology and the need to ensure everyone has basic knowledge of tech concepts. “We have accelerated our tech opportunities and have made them equitable and accessible for all,” she explained. “When it comes to tech, there is a misconception that it is too complex to even address.” Accordingly, AIM has focused on fun and informative opportunities. For instance, its complimentary “Demystifying Tech” workshops are offered in hybrid, in-person and remote formats. These workshops explore five main areas: infrastructure, support, data, development and design. “By the end of the workshop, participants will have a better understanding of the career opportunities available through tech and which best matches their interests and goals,” she said. When asked about “in-demand” skill sets, Lopez referred to upskilling. “Through our ‘Callers to Coders’ program, we’ve designed a corporate training program that helps participants learn crucial career skills, which takes them on a path to become qualified IT professionals,” she said. Skills-based coding, programming, web development, and business intelligence are designed to remove barriers to entering higher-skill job fields. Additionally, Lopez said IT managers are learning essential skills to adapt to changing global competition, workforces, and emerging technologies through AIM’s leadership academies. What started as around 100 tech professionals, the academies have now expanded nationally and globally. Collectively, programs aim to develop skills for placement in H3: “High skill,” “High demand” and “High pay” jobs. “These employment opportunities can change the trajectory of an individual’s life,” Lopez said. AIM is targeting increased opportunities for historically underrepresented groups; for instance, the institute recently secured a $50,000 grant from Google for its new CB Tech Career Acceleration Program in the Council Bluffs area. A job-readiness program with the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, Centro Latino of Iowa and Iowa Western Community College is designed to help underemployed individuals living below the poverty line (with a focus on the Latino community). Following completion of the program, graduates are qualified for placement as front-end web developers. She also said AIM is collaborating with Omaha Public Schools to offer Omaha South freshmen an overview of the core field techs to ignite interest in pursuing these opportunities in the local sector, which increases diverse representation.