Colorado colleges offer new IT training

Colorado community colleges have partnered with an electronic commerce company to provide information technology training to adults who want to change careers.

Mary Crabbe Gershwin, the director of strategic initiatives at the Colorado Community College and Occupational Education System, said that many adults want to get training in e-commerce and the Internet but cannot afford it.

"One of the gaps we saw are programs that allow you to get these skills, but they're very expensive," Gershwin said. "Employers want workers with basic knowledge, but there's no reason to take on $20,000 in debt."

The colleges will target four new groups:

    * Career changers: a certificate in e-business aimed at those that have business skills but need technical skills and vice versa.

    * Small business owners: a series of half-day workshops addressing World Wide Web strategy options, legal issues and the Internet, and the use of the Internet to reduce purchasing costs.

    * Digital Divide crossers: courses and workshops aimed at those unfamiliar with new technology.

    * Elected officials: provides information about policy issues and rural telecommunications questions.

The Global Commerce Certificate, the program aimed for career changers, is so named because of a partnership with Global Commerce Systems Inc. The company donated the curriculum and is training instructors to teach the material.

The program costs $1,100 for a 16- to 18-credit course. The program schedules vary depending on which college is offering them. However, the five three-week classes are mostly offered at night from Monday through Thursday and on weekends.

"We want them to be able to work during the day and get their training at night," Gerswhin said.

They also offer a one-credit seminar in business or technology and an optional internship and independent study.

Currently, the program is being piloted at one college but will grow to 14 within five months.

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