Funded by AT&T, the CompTIA A+ Certification is an industry-recognized, entry-level credential, and acheived a 100% retention and graduation rate this first session.

In today’s economy, there is certainly a need for IT professionals, from CEOs to entry-level employees. Now, thanks to a new College of Staten Island (CSI) job training program, the high-tech sector will see ten new highly qualified candidates in the job pool.

On Monday evening, the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development held a graduation ceremony for ten students who successfully completed the 180-hour CompTIA A+ Certification Program. The workforce training certificate Program is targeted to young adults on Staten Island, and is the first of its kind at the College. Funded by AT&T, the CompTIA A+ Certification is an industry-recognized, entry-level credential, which opens the door for a career in the technological sector.

The new addition to Continuing Education saw a 100% retention and graduation rate this first session.

Among the graduates are Prince Lewis, a confident young student, who plans to reach for the stars. “My ultimate goal is to be the next Bill Gates,” he exclaimed, acknowledging on a serious note that he is very interested in building and manufacturing new technology.

“I feel like this class is really the beginning for me,” said Lewis, 25, of Mariner’s Harbor, who is also a CSI undergraduate majoring in Computer Science, returning to school after four years. “A lot of non-stop school keeps my mind strong, and I really liked this Program. The teacher was great, and I learned so many new things.”

Another enlightened graduate, Shariff Moore, was thrilled for the opportunity. “I always wanted to seek a career in the computer industry, but I did not have the knowledge. This was a great way to get right into what I wanted to learn–no prerequisites, no red tape,” commented Moore, 39, of Tompkinsville, adding that the students worked well in the small group setting. “If we had a problem, the others would join in to help. We all took it very seriously.”

Graduates were joined by family, friends, College officials, and politicians. Borough President James Oddo, whose office was instrumental in bringing CSI and AT&T together, brought his greetings and congratulations, saying that he was happy be “back home” at the College where has also taught Political Science in the past. He congratulated the graduates, saying that he was happy to “see folks take control of their future,” adding “any chance that I can take to help young people, I am going to do it. We need talent. We need it now. And we cannot have enough.”

Oddo thanked the College and AT&T before discussing the five-borough tech ecosystem, which allows for tech jobs and non-tech jobs in the tech sector, as well as tech jobs in the non-tech sector, an industry that pays $30 billion in wages. “We need to equip our young people to go out there and grab those jobs. Go out there, and get your slice of the American Dream!”

Enthused with the collaborative technology Program, CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz commented, “This Program ideally represents the joining of the private and public sector for workforce development, and addresses a true academic need in the community during a time of exponential growth in the technology sector. I commend the graduates for their hard work and wish them tremendous success as they embark on their new career paths. We are grateful to President of AT&T New York Marissa Shorenstein and Borough President James Oddo for their support and collaboration in making this vital and relevant Program a hallmark of success on Staten Island.”

The five-month course, which ran from November 2015 to April 2016, included both theoretical and hands-on IT training. AT&T provided funding for the curriculum development as well as materials and full tuition; to reinforce the theoretical and technical textbook learning, students were able to build their own computers, which they kept at the Program’s end. The students are currently involved in internships where they can put that classroom practice to work.

“The concentration of disconnected young adults in Staten Island is growing. That is why we decided to launch this life-changing workforce educational Program to help provide students with a certificate, training, and work experience to create better lives for themselves and their future generations,” said Marissa Shorenstein, President of AT&T New York. “New York City has one of the fastest growing tech scenes in the country, and with the increasing number of tech jobs available across the boroughs, we wanted to develop a program that allows students to walk away with a robust résumé that will prepare them for the available and promising opportunities.”

Christopher Cruz Cullari, Executive Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development at the College, applauded the key collaborators of the Program, thanking them for “lighting the fire” and expressing his “gratitude and hope.” Noting that the Program was rigorous, and still achieved “100% passing, 100% graduation, and excellent attendance,” he thanked the partners for their support and interest in “a very important and exciting new Program.” Cruz Cullari added that a recent New York City labor market report found that an estimated one-third of young adults are unemployed–a statistic that unfortunately speaks directly about several of the neighborhoods on Staten Island’s North Shore. “Our new Program is targeted at young people who are disconnected from both employment and school and have few employment opportunities as a result. This industry-recognized credential and real-work experience will ultimately help them to find work in the technology sector. We need more workforce programs for out-of-school, out-of-work youth like these, and thanks to companies like AT&T, we are one more step in the right direction.”

Learn more about programs and certificates offered by the Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development.