Urging Unemployed, Underemployed IT Workers, Veterans and Others to Attend Jobs 2.0 Workshop

NJTechWeekly.com keeps hearing about the high demand for IT workers in New Jersey, and it's true, there is a high demand. Most of the demand, however, seems to be for specific individuals with specific skills.

However, there are also those established, longtime IT workers who have been left in the dust by a changing work environment. Their skills are rusty; they need to master new programming languages and new platforms. They also may need to transition into a new work environment where it's likely they won't have a full-time job they can count on for years at a time, but may instead need to rely on project-based work.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT, Newark) and the UpSkill jobs network is presenting a Jobs 2.0 workshop Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 at 5 p.m., aimed at experienced IT workers who need to close or are closing the skills gap but are still having difficulty finding work. Other members of the Northern New Jersey tech community who are looking for jobs or considering changing jobs are invited, too.

The university had received a Federal grant to trainunemployed IT and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professionals in areas where companies in northern New Jersey have skill gaps.

At this point, unemployed individuals participating in the grant can choose from a considerable catalog of courses to take that will lead them toward a job. The classes are given at both NJIT and the community colleges participating in the network.

"Many of the unemployed students are in their 40s and 50s," said Art O’Brien, who administers the grant for NJIT. "They signed on with a company in their 20s and expected to stay there for life. Now everything has changed. Companies want you to not only be good at your job but to know how to network at the same time. Sometimes it works out that you can go from project to project at the same company, but most often you'll need to keep networking while you are on your job, so you can get the next one."

"We have one employer who told us that his company doesn't put jobs on Monster.com or Indeed any more. They’ve developed a following on LinkedIn and when they have a job, they just announce it to their following and resumés come in," O’Brien said.

The workshop will feature Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write, who will discuss using social media in a job search, something unemployed IT workers may not know how to do. She will also critique resumés for anyone who wants her opinion. Tammy Molinelli, executive director of the Bergen County Workforce Investment Board, will talk about resources available to job hunters through these boards.

Kurt Anderson, of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, co-author of the New Jersey Technology Council’s Outlook Survey, will discuss the lessons learned from this extensive survey of IT leaders in New Jersey. We covered the survey here.

A panel discussion chaired by Katherine Kish, executive director of Einstein’s Alley, will feature executives of New Jersey IT companies who will try to talk directly to their potential employees, providing “a reality check about what employers are looking for” today in older workers. “We’ll try to address what really is the future for the older engineer who may have been a 20-year employee of a large company that has had a large downsizing,” Kish said.

IT workers aren’t automatically respected for their years of experience, Kish noted. While Kish said she couldn’t be sure about what all the panelists would say, she believes participants will hear advice about how to stay flexible and open to change, how to upgrade their skills and how to get the training they need to participate in new social media techniques. “We’ll try to give them an idea of what is enough to be successful in today’s job-hunting market,” she added.

So, if you are between jobs in IT, programming, security, networks or any other related jobs, or just contemplating a job move or find yourself part of a downsizing event, it can’t hurt to stop by NJIT on Monday, Oct. 21. The organizers believe you’ll leave with targeted, useful information that will get you back into the workforce.

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