ACC initiative accelerates women into IT fields

The Austin Community College District (ACC) launches the Women in Information Technology (IT) initiative, a program designed to accelerate women into entry-levels careers in IT, thanks to a grant awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s NGLC Breakthrough Models Incubator.

“There is a growing disparity within the IT field. Women are underrepresented, making up just 24 percent of the IT workforce nationwide,” says Linda Smarzik, ACC dean of computer studies and advanced technology. “This program seeks to close that gap by moving the underemployed and unemployed women into education and ultimately a promising career.”

The Women in IT program offers certificates and degrees in one of four IT pathways, including:

  • Computer user support
  • Networking
  • Programming
  • Web development

ACC-ACCelerator-2015-2950_Op1_960x367_acf_croppedThe program uses a competency-based model that allows participants to move through courses as they master them.  Offered online or in the ACCelerator, a high-tech learning lab at the Highland Campus, full-time students can complete a certificate in as little as two semesters.

“We’re developing the workforce that will meet the growing IT demands of our region,” says Smarzik. “Austin’s need for IT workers is outpacing the pool of qualified candidates.”

According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce November 2015 jobs report, there are thousands of Central Texas job openings in the tech field, including approximately 900 in computer user support, 900 in networking, 400 in programming, and 1,100 in web development,

“In the early days of computers, women were the core workforce in technology. Getting women back into this field has become a critical need in our region and across the country,” says Steve Jackobs, Capital IDEA executive director. “We are thrilled to be partnering in this way with ACC to take on a tough challenge and positively impact our community. By supporting women entering high tech fields, the Women in IT program is simultaneously helping local families thrive and bringing balance back to this industry.”

Eligible participants will receive wide-ranging support, from advising and academic help at the college to resumé writing, job placement, tuition, book, and childcare assistance through ACC’s partnerships with Workforce Solutions and Capital IDEA.

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