Career Pathways for Adult Education Learners in the Middle Peninsula:
A Success Story from Region 18
by Danielle Robinson, Regional Program Manager
Samuel Oberlin completed the cybersecurity course developed by iForCE and earned his CompTIA A+ Certification with Middle Peninsula Regional Adult & Career Education program in June 2015. He is currently working in his new field. Six months into the job, I wanted to follow-up on his progress and ask a few questions about his experiences with our organization and the PluggedInVA training model.
“Oh, snap,” he answered in his typically exuberant voice. “I thought this just sounded too good to be true.” Sam’s wife, Crystal, had visited the Job Assistance Center in Shacklefords, VA, looking for work. She received the cybersecurity project flyer in her email from the JAC and knew it was just right for her husband. He loved working with computers.
“I have to meet the school bus to pick up my girls each day,” he continued. “I ran to the JAC in between work and picking them up and filled out the application. I was really excited when I got the letter that I had gotten into the program.” Sam admitted that the work was harder than he anticipated, but he completed the 10-week program and passed the COMP TIA A+ certification exams. In the process, he also earned a Career Readiness Certificate from Rappahannock Community College and improved his math skills considerably.
“I already had a high school diploma, but I needed this training to get a better job for my family,” he smiled broadly. “I am now the help desk manager in a small company. I use the training I got with MP R.A.C.E. every day. We do computer repairs and I am learning so much.” Sam admits that participating in the program turned out better than he could have anticipated. With his new job come some more benefits. The company pays a percentage of his home Internet and phone bills because he does some work from home. They will also pay the testing fee for additional IT certifications related to his job. Best of all, his employer has been very understanding of his responsibilities as a parent and allows him flexible hours so he can continue to pick up his little girls from the bus stop.
We are so proud of Sam. Mike Miklich, the iForCE director, was impressed too. Sam’s commitment to provide for his family resonated with him. He has awarded Sam a FREE scholarship to online iForCE classes for additional IT certifications. Since his job will pay for the exams, Sam wants to take advantage of this opportunity. “I’ve just started a new class,” Sam beamed. “It is the next certification above the Comp TIA. When I finish it, I will have a Network Plus Certification”.
That’s what impresses us most about Sam. He never says “if,” always “when.” He is self-motivated and takes responsibility for achieving his goals. “I have had so much support: my wife, my teachers at MP R.A.C.E., the folks at iForCE and the Job Assistance Center, and my new employers.” His mood turned quiet and reflective. “It’s just been too good to be true.”
According to the 2015 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the term ‘‘career pathway’’ means a combination of rigorous and high quality education, training, and other services that organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual to the extent practicable.
The Middle Peninsula Regional Adult & Career Education (MP R.A.C.E.) program is only one of 22 state-funded regional programs serving adult residents in the Commonwealth of Virginia whose goal is to improve their language and math skills or earn a high school credential to improve access to job opportunities and postsecondary education. WIOA provides state and local areas the flexibility to collaborate across systems in an effort to better address the employment and skills needs of current employees, jobseekers, and employers.
Sam’s story is one example of what WIOA means to the local economy and our workforce. The Middle Peninsula is just one of the rural regions in the Commonwealth of Virginia determined to work together to make a difference in the lives of its residents.