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Successes of Teaching Job Skills- before and during COVID-19

April 15, 2020

One of SPNN’s flagship programs is the Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP), whose 35 AmeriCorps members teach technology literacy skills for social, civic and economic empowerment around the Twin Cities. CTEP AmeriCorps Member Jeff Thomas serves clients at the Hired-North Loop location. Hired is a non-profit that supports job seekers. Jeff specifically teaches digital literacy and basic computer skills to individuals who currently work at Medical Call Centers.

Here is Jeff’s reflection of a memorable success story:

Kasey enjoys helping people and found her job as a Nurse Assistant rewarding. She was happy to help elderly patients live in their homes longer. Kasey found her Nurse Assistant job satisfying but was looking for a less physically demanding Healthcare career. Kasey was also looking for a job that would pay more so that she could better support her family. Hired’s Medical Call Center Program helped Kasey land a higher paying Customer Service Representative job at a major Healthcare Company. At Hired, Kasey received training in Customer Service skills, Medical Terminology, and Computer skills. Kasey met many local Healthcare recruiters at a special event hosted by Hired. One of these employers would later offer Kasey a job.   

Applying to jobs can be a long and tedious process. Few companies allow you to simply click apply and attach a resume. Most companies require job seekers to create a special account, fill out the answers to security questions, and enter their resume into separate sections. These computer skills can seem like second nature to someone that has grown up with computers. To someone that didn’t have these resources growing up, managing multiple passwords for accounts can feel overwhelming and keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste can seem like magic. I helped Kasey create new accounts to apply for jobs, complete job applications, improve her typing, and showed her time saving tricks like copy and paste. I also helped teach Microsoft Office Classes, provided help in Open Computer Lab hours, and helped Kasey earn six Northstar Digital Literacy Certificates. Hired and CTEP have improved Kasey’s life by helping her gain the necessary skills to receive a higher paying job and satisfying career. 

Since Covid, Jeff has helped Hired North Loop transition to an online curriculum. Jeff has helped students and Hired staff install Zoom on their computers and smartphones. Jeff employed tips from CTEP’s own Zoom Meetings to suggest best practices for Hired’s online instruction. He has searched various hospital websites for recent job postings and compiled a list of more than 60 jobs that would be a great fit for Medical Call Center participants. Hired’s application process was mainly done on paper before Covid and Jeff has since created guides to help clients fill out PDF versions of these applications. All student proctoring was previously done on-site at Hired. Jeff is helping students to continue to earn a customer service certificate called NRF, in addition to the Northstar certificates, with the use of an approved remote proctoring process. 

The relevance and importance of CTEP is apparent now more than ever as the digital divide threatens to further widen economic disparities in an environment with increased unemployment and required work from home.