Building strong training tracks.
Minnesota is home to a wealth of technology companies, and the tech-savvy firms that move here appreciate skilled employees who are well trained. To keep the talent pool filled to the brim, Inver Hills Community College boasts a center for professional and workforce development that’s so effective it was recently awarded Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant. The center’s director, David Anderson, talks about what it takes to bring students up to speed.
What kind of training do you provide to benefit the companies that send you their employees?
The new technologies that companies need to stay competitive are: network security, wireless computer networks, and IP telephony. The college meets these needs, because not only are we recognized as having the best Cisco Training Academy and facility in the U.S., but the college is starting new programs, including Check Point Security, Cisco Security, wireless, and IP telephony. The college will be the first Check Point Security training academy in the U.S. Companies like Cargill, Northwest Airlines, Wells Fargo, and Park Nicollet Medical Center are already partnering with us for employees to receive training.
Why did Inver Hills Community College decide to start open a Cisco Training Academy?
We joined together with Cisco Systems to provide hands-on training to local businesses in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. This partnership was in response to a request from companies who needed their employees to upgrade their computer networking skills at an affordable price. Companies were tired of sending employees away to expensive IT “boot camps” and seeing them return with a certificate but no new skills.
How is your training delivered?
The training materials are developed by Cisco Systems. The curriculum and delivery method is considered to be the best in the industry. The content is Web-based and updated every six months by Cisco, and is supplemented by hands-on lab experience and instructor lectures. After each unit, an assessment is given to the students, and each student can review the results and look at what needs to be improved. The assessment process is used as a tool so each student continues to learn as they go through the program. Along with the material, there’s also an internship program that can be used as an elective, so students can get work experience on top of the certification.
What got you interested in professional and workforce development?
I was a former high school teacher right out of college, and from there I went into being a training manager at a manufacturing company. I enjoyed working with people that were really interested in learning and growing, so from there I worked at two technical colleges setting up training for businesses and industry, and for the last seven years I’ve been at Inver Hills. The program here has been the most tangibly rewarding program that I’ve ever done.
What makes it so rewarding to you?
In the 20 years that I’ve been in workforce training, the Cisco program as been the most fun and rewarding to me, because you can see tangible results of people growing and being successful in their profession. I have seen people get promotions and double their salary because of the Cisco training program. I’ve had feedback from employers that they have seen large gains from their employees as a result of the hands-on training in the program. It has increased the quality of life for many individuals, and it helps Minnesota companies be successful, and that is what my job is all about.
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