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Monday, October 31, 2016

NITAS Mohawk Valley

National Information Technology Apprenticeship System (NITAS)
The Development of the IT Industry in New York State and Beyond

Imagine a corporate executive and a college professor working together to produce a college graduate with exactly the right skills and work experience to ensure immediate career success. This is more than just an imaginary concept: it is NITAS. Multiply this vision by three colleges, sixty corporations and two hundred students, and you can begin to envision the impact of the Mohawk Valley NITAS Consortium.

What is NITAS?
NITAS is an innovative new workforce development system that integrates education, certification and skill validation through a personal coaching system, resulting in a highly effective IT workforce. Through NITAS, employers and educators collaborate to define and support a system of classroom and workplace experiences that lead to exactly the right set of skills and knowledge required for a successful IT career. In NITAS, this set of experiences is termed an apprenticeship.

NITAS IT Apprenticeship concentrations identify the competencies required for a successful career in information technology. NITAS paves the way for students to start careers while they’re still in college, and enables IT workers to develop and validate critical on-the-job competencies. NITAS helps companies develop and validate worker abilities to make them more productive; it enables educators to extend their benefits beyond the classroom, into the workplace.

NITAS was developed jointly by CompTIA and the U.S. Department of Labor in response to the shortage of fully trained IT workers in the United States. When the Department of Labor asked for a way to systematically develop a talented IT workforce, CompTIA accepted the challenge. Through a complex system of skills identification and validation, CompTIA and its IT industrial membership created the National Information Technology Apprenticeship System, NITAS.

NITAS in the Mohawk Valley
The Mohawk Valley NITAS Consortium is one of a handful of pilot installations of this exciting new IT certification process. In fact, the Consortium is the first community based implementation in the nation; it is, in a sense, a proving ground for the NITAS system. The project is led by the State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNYIT) in concert with Mohawk Valley Community College and Herkimer County Community College. All three colleges are located in Central New York, minutes from Rome's Air Force Research Laboratory and Griffiss Institute, and their many federal contractors, a robust community of high tech employers.

The New York State Department of Labor projects that IT employment is a growth opportunity in Central New York, yet employers find it difficult to identify and recruit experienced IT professionals. In response, some high-tech employers have begun to create internship opportunities for local college students. Mike Miravelli, CEO of Dolphin Technology Inc., says NITAS is the next generation of the internship process:

"The NITAS program is exactly what we have been looking for at Dolphin for the past five years. As a company owner and CEO, I spend a tremendous amount of time and resources growing the best possible engineering staff. Over the years, we have developed multilayered intern programs that range from employing and training high school students to employing undergraduate students as part-time engineers. Additionally, we spend a very large amount of
oney on continuing education and training for our fulltime engineers. We also run in-house training programs for our new employees who join us directly after graduating from college. By far, the need for additional education and training of employees, is a function of the skills and knowledge that they did not acquire in colleges or universities, despite receiving degrees in the Computer Sciences. We also note this negative trend in engineers we acquire from other technology companies. Despite glowing resumes and satisfactory interviews, we find far too many software engineers lack many of the basic skills once they are assigned tasks to perform. So, what does NITAS do for me? It addresses the three critical areas that my company needs to be successful:

1. We can work directly with colleges and universities to help develop curricula that more accurately prepares students for a career in the computer sciences. I can spend less time and money training employees and enjoy the benefit of a much more effective engineering work force entering the employment pool.

2. We can better assess new employees qualifications based on certifications that require demonstrated skills and knowledge. That is a huge savings in personnel turnover, startup productivity, and follow-on training costs.

3. We can begin to grow our own workforce with students entering college. NITAS ties together all the interning programs we run at Dolphin into a single, focused undertaking aimed at creating a pipeline, beginning as early as high school, of engineers into our staff.

Having worked in the IT field since 1966, I believe that NITAS is one of the best ideas to come along in many, many years.

How will it work?
Mohawk Valley NITAS Consortium members will create one integrated online college catalog of credit and non-credit education courses that fulfill the competency requirements of various apprenticeship concentrations. With personal support from NITAS coaches, students will progress through the NITAS system by taking courses while they work at apprenticeships with participating corporations. Coaches will validate the attainment of a competency when apprentices demonstrate that they can ‘do’ what they learned. In other words, NITAS apprentices must successfully apply their knowledge on the job to become certified.

Corporate Consortium partners will work with experienced NITAS coaches to place apprentices on jobs that both fulfill competency requirements and assist the corporation with critical IT functions. The job sites represent the final validation of competency achievement and play an important role in the NITAS system. Working together, the college and corporate coaches offer a personal network of support for NITAS apprentices as they work their way through the system.

Beyond the Mohawk Valley
When SUNYIT began working with NITAS in the summer of 2004, it became apparent that the program's success depended on the skills and engagement of the coaches. In response, SUNYIT created the position of Master Coach, an individual who will train, support and oversee the coach network among the Consortium partners. Building on this capacity and expertise, SUNYIT proposes to expand the NITAS network beyond the Mohawk Valley to the rest of the rest of the SUNY system. The goal is to assist all interested SUNY institutions to identify and support coaches and apprentices on their campuses. Additionally, the Master Coach and NITAS director will work with other regions of New York State to engage local corporations in the process.

The ultimate goal of this project is to develop the capacity and expertise to enable SUNYIT to assist US four year colleges and universities as they adopt the NITAS model for their communities.

Our Proposal

We request support for the accelerated implementation of NITAS for the Mohawk Valley Consortium and the SUNY system. SUNYIT will serve as the project leader, initially working closely with its sister institutions, Mohawk Valley Community College and Herkimer County Community College. This support will also enable SUNYIT to develop the internal capacity to assist other SUNY institutions as they adopt NITAS for their communities. Anticipated outcomes include:

1. Create sustainable infrastructure at SUNYIT, MVCC and HCCC to support NITAS system for local college students and incumbent IT workers.

2. Create network of 60 corporate partners who will participate as NITAS Consortium apprenticeship and/or incumbent worker sites.

3. Identify, train and oversee NITAS coach network recruited from the three colleges and their corporate partners.

4. Recruit, register and place 200 NITAS apprentices representing the three colleges and their corporate partners.

5. Develop one integrated catalog with NITAS competencies mapped to credit and noncredit courses from the three institutions and their training partners.

6. Identify and develop new courses to fill NITAS competency gaps in existing Consortium catalog.

7. Develop and implement NITAS incumbent IT worker system with 6 corporations who will serve as examples for other local employers.

8. Develop Coach School at SUNYIT, capable of training and supporting coaches from throughout the SUNY system.

9. SUNYIT will develop promotion plan and requisite materials to disseminate NITAS to all SUNY institutions.

10. Seek grant funding for the expansion and enhancement of NITAS in the Mohawk Valley beyond the pilot phase.

The proposed project will establish a strong base of support for the full implementation of NITAS in New York State – and beyond. By developing the pilot project in the Mohawk Valley, every NYS employer and educator will be able to adopt NITAS in their community with minimal risk and effort. The powerful NITAS system will expedite the attainment of a robust Information Technology industry in New York State and eventually throughout the United States.


E-Mail: robert@mil-net.us | Phone:859.428.8163

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