A month after relocating its headquarters to Jacksonville, technology training company SkillStorm is partnering with Jacksonville University to provide customized training for First Coast employers.
SkillStorm’s business model is based on having employers pay for the training, which is free to students. Classes are tailored for the need of employers, customized — on top of a standard base of training — to meet workforce demands.
“We believe we can retain our best and brightest local talent by deploying these resources to large employers in the Jacksonville area,” SkillStorm CEO Justin Vianello told the Business Journal. “This is where JU is absolutely essential in the partnership, because they have the relationships with large employers, and they have the ability to leverage those relationships to help them understand the value of building this domestic talent.”
The training, which will take place at JU’s downtown campus in the VyStar Tower, is aimed at college graduates and veterans, with SkillStorm having a particular interest in students with a security clearance.
“In the case of federal clients in particular, we will take a military veteran that holds a clearance, and we will then take them through the training and certification process and certify some one with a clearance, rather than trying to take a technologist and getting them cleared,” Vianello said.
For veterans who are not prepared for the rigors of the standard 12-week course, the company offers a 20-week course designed to bring the student’s skills up to snuff.
The program responds to a long-expressed need for more technologically skilled workers in the area, specifically ones with a precise mix of skills.
“We produce students that are ready to work,” said Will Miller, executive director of Institutional Analytics, Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives at JU. “But we’re not necessarily always producing the student who has the exact technology knowledge that the company wants. It was a way to leverage the strong partnerships we already have and give our students another opportunity to really gain a skill that’s going to bring in even more value to their eventual employer.”
The program is open to students who did not graduate from JU, but alumni of the school will have a preference in the application process.
During the 12-week training course, the company pays students $20 to $25 an hour, with wages rising to between $30 and $45 an hour once the student enters the workforce. The classes done in partnership with JU kick off in November, with the goal of scaling up to four classes of 25 students every 12 weeks.
The company has already trained 100 students — 25 of them veterans — and has cohorts in training that should wrap up by the end of the year.
“We’ve got a very aggressive target in terms of training and deploying resources in the next three years,” the CEO said. “We want to deploy and train 3000 people, and obviously we want to make sure that next year is a very, very strong start to that.”
Last month, SkillStorm relocated its headquarters from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville, a move Vianello said positions the company for growth, both on the First Coast and throughout the Southeast.
“When we looked at some of the larger employers here — like FIS, like Florida Blue — we didn’t feel there was anyone in this space, partnering with the universities and being able to provide a broad-based technology solution at scale,” he said.
The area benefits from proximity to Orlando, where companies like Lockheed Martin Corp. have an ongoing need for trained technology workers, and places like Charlotte, where SkillStorm has a large office.
Although students who go through the program can get jobs elsewhere, JU’s goal is to keep them here.