Chicago Career Tech offers job-finding assistance

July 19, 2010 (CHICAGO)

It offers technology classes, business placement and even a cash stipend.

It's all part of an initiative aimed at getting middle-class Chicagoans back to work.

At the Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy downtown, these students are learning digital marketing - how to use the internet and social media to a business's advantage.

It is all new territory for Claudia Banks and her classmates. They are part of a six-month-long jobs training program called Chicago Career Tech. Even with a Master's Degree, Banks says she couldn't find work.

"I was a librarian at a law firm and had been laid-off in February of 2009," said Banks. "The idea of learning something really technical was appealing because a lot of librarians are having to do that."

In addition to classroom training, participants spend two days working in a business and two days volunteering in a non-profit organization. Banks has found her home at Arias Information Solutions, an IT firm, and at the Lakeview YMCA. Mayor Daley hopes the program will help Chicago become an epicenter for top jobs.

"So I said to myself: How does Chicago differ from the rest of the country?" said Daley. "If I can build a pool of talent in technology... any company in the United States or the world wants to locate in the United States will say, 'I want to go to Chicago, because they have 25, 30, 50,000 people that are well-educated, well-trained in technology."

Chicago Career Tech is geared toward the middle class. Organizers say each component provides new skills and a broader network for Chicago's estimated 30,000 unemployed white-collar workers.

"Why that population? Because they were making too much money to qualify for a lot of the loans in the job training programs, and they weren't making enough money to get access to any of the typical layoff career services," said Chicago Career Tech Executive Director Marie Trzupek Lynch. "It was this group that was really the forgotten middle."

To qualify for Chicago Career Tech, you must be an unemployed Chicago resident who was earning between $25,000 and $75,000 a year before losing your job.

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