October 31, 2012

What Next?: High-Tech Vo-Tech

A Chicago school is giving its students the skills they'll need to land top tech jobs.

Jessica: Matthew Fleming says he is just not the academic type.

Matt Fleming: I hate school. I hate school. I never wanted to go to college.

Jessica: So he came here –Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, a high-tech vocational school in Chicago.

A vocational, or trade school, is where students are taught the specific skills needed to perform a particular job.

Matt: They offer an Associate’s Degree in two years with mainly hands-on work, and that’s the way I learn best.

Tribeca Flashpoint Academy Class: if you were going to drop the screen, where would you drop the screen?

Jessica: Entrepreneur Howard Tullman founded the academy. He says his school succeeds in areas where the traditional education system is failing.

Howard Tullman: We decided that to meet this unmet need with respect to students who just wanted to learn the skills they needed to get a job, to do it in an economic fashion and in a realistic time frame.

Jessica: The academy combines high-tech training with hands-on experience, from film and animation to gaming and graphic design. Students work on real-world projects using the latest digital tools.

Steve Gradman: I can call them up and say, ‘Is this something you’re teaching them?  Because this is something one of my clients wants.’

Jessica: Steve Gradman is president of Kboom! Games, a high-tech start-up that designs custom games and apps. Four of his five employees in the U.S. are Flashpoint graduates.

Steve: The real hard thing to find is people that are well-trained and prepared to take on this field.  They’re ready to go out of the gate, and what’s nice is they’re used to, kind of, problem-solving the stuff they don’t know.

Jessica: Eric Huertas came to Flashpoint after being laid off by Bank of America last year. So, what is the former bank manager’s new job? He is teaching companies how to promote their brands on social media sites.

Eric Huertas: I was fortunate to be one of the generations now that was born with an electronic spoon in the mouth. It wasn’t that hard of a jump.

Jessica: And Howard Tullman says that is the whole point; to turn a generation of “digital kids” into industry professionals.

Howard:  Phones and tablets and all these new devices are changing the way we live. So I think our students get that because we also expose them to every kind of practical thing.

Jessica: A recent report found that as many as 150 thousand jobs in the state of Illinois go unfilled, simply because employers cannot find the people who have the skills to do the job.


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