YWCA TechLab program could shorten local IT labor gaps

Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 11:01 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Several local companies in the IT sector need workers at all skill levels and one program at the YWCA Northwestern Illinois could help people meet those qualifications.

The new TechLab program at the YWCA offers hands-on training and certifications for women, people of color and under-served people. The first web development class started in November and one student is happy she signed up.

Gloria Mubirigi is a single mom who moved to Rockford during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gloria is at the YWCA in Rockford 16 hours a week learning about web development and soft skills like project management.

“I felt like my back was against the wall and then I came across an opportunity,” says Mubirigi. “Every time I come here and learn a new skill, I can imagine myself in a better place in the future.”

Gloria was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and came to the U.S. as a war refugee in the early 2000s. She’s thankful to find this free program to aid in her career path. Gloria doesn’t have a full-time job at the moment but is optimistic what she’s learning will pay off for her family.

“I want my son to have everything that I didn’t have. He is the driving force behind everything that I am doing.”

Stacey Wright is one of the program’s case managers. She believes women and people of color are under-represented in the IT industry and a program like this can make it a more diverse field.

“They can create their websites which they can use in their businesses that they want to pursue if they’re going to be entrepreneurs. It opens doors,” says Wright.

“There’s an abundance of resources today to help people in low-income communities and minorities. And this wouldn’t exist if there weren’t companies willing to take us on,” says Mubirigi

Wright says they can’t reveal which companies they partner with for jobs and paid internships but she is excited it’s something the students can look forward to once they complete the course in May.

Those in the class also got a laptop to put their skills to the test. They will also get to keep the laptop at the end of the course.