According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor, in the early months of the pandemic, the nation’s unemployment rate reached its highest level since the Great Depression, skyrocketing to 14.7 percent in April of 2020, more than tripling from only 4.4 percent in March. While these figures have improved since then, the pandemic has permanently altered the labor market, requiring workers to be nimble, sharp, and technologically fluent. Enter the UpSkill Institute at Jacksonville University.
Introduced last October, the UpSkill Institute is dedicated to helping current JU students and career professionals to either enter the workforce or remain on the cutting edge of their industries, despite the curveballs of COVID-19 or any other challenge. The institute offers certification courses in several technologies and health care disciplines and is reflective of the university’s commitment to lifelong learning.
The UpSkill Institute houses the university’s SkillStorm and Availity programs. SkillStorm, a developer of technology talent, joined forces with JU in 2020 with the goal of building a pipeline of tech professionals who will ultimately be deployed to companies in Jacksonville, greater Florida, and beyond. It provides scholarships to qualified applicants of need, and its immersive training program rapidly releases tech professionals into the workforce where they can earn while they learn.
Through the SkillStorm suite of courses, certifications can be earned in enterprise technologies, such as Pega, Salesforce, AWS, Azure, Java, Robotics, and ServiceNow. Unique to the program is the designation of StormChaser trainees, a skilled contingent of accepted participants with strong technology backgrounds who are hired and paid by SkillStorm while they progress through a 12-week training program focused on advancing their skills and obtaining certifications. They will then join a client company where their newly honed skills will be utilized and where they will gain valuable career experience.