Where to Find Free Computer Training
In today’s world, it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain entry-level positions without some sort of familiarity with technology.
Programs like the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP), which provided broadband access around the country with federal stimulus funding, have helped New York bridge the digital divide – but there are still many New Yorkers who don’t have the finances, training or experience to use technology tools, and ultimately, find jobs.With its job growth, the technology sector is more appealing than ever in New York City, so don’t fall behind. Every few months, there are new updates and editions of computers, smart phones, software and hardware. Here are some low- or no-cost technology training centers that can help you get your footing in today’s world of technology, and possibly, a job.
50 West 23rd Street, Manhattan
Good for: Elementary, middle, and high school students
The MOUSE Squad program helps young students become digital leaders in their schools and society. Part of the nonprofit MOUSE, which was founded in New York City in 1997 to simply wire schools for Internet access in the first place, MOUSE Squad now brings technical skills to students in more than 350 elementary, middle and high schools across the country. The program integrates technology into the school curriculum and teaches students how to troubleshoot technical problems. Participants receive MOUSE Squad Certification, an online curriculum used to train new technicians and help desk operators. The program also includes a MOUSE Squad starter kit for schools, team training, and “Unplugged” events, where MOUSE Squad members meet and collaborate on real world technology applications. Through the MOUSE Corps program, students work with professionals in the field to create digital media projects and participate in after-school programs and internships to learn more about the professional world. To join MOUSE Squad, fill out a membership form through your school or organization, and check out the NYC membership packet for more information.
Brooklyn: 4 MetroTech Center, Downtown Brooklyn
Manhattan : 240 East 123rd Street, Harlem
Good for: Ages 18 to 25
NPower is a nonprofit organization that provides IT training and services to students and organizations around the country. The Technology Service Corps program in Brooklyn and Harlem provides young adults in New York City, ages 18 to 25, free IT education, professional skills and job placement. The program lasts 22 weeks, with the last five weeks dedicated to an internship in an IT-related field. Two days a week, the program focuses on resume workshops and workplace skills development. Upon completing the program, students receive their A+ certification and may go on to another program to receive further certification, or be placed in an entry-level position with the help of the job development team. The next class starts in Brooklyn on July 26. To apply, you can either go in person or apply online.
321 East 96th Street, Manhattan
Good for: Students ages 16 to 20; adults 21 and up who don’t have a U.S. high school diploma or GED
Located on the Upper East Side, the School of Cooperative Technical Education is a part of the New York City Department of Education. Its free vocational and technical training covers a variety of fields, including two IT-related programs – Cisco Network Academy/IT Essentials and STRATA/A+ Computer Repair. The Cisco Network Academy course recommends prior experience in computer maintenance and repair, but the STRATA course will teach all of that while preparing you for the COMP-TIA A+ exam. Through the “School to Work” office, students receive assistance in preparing resumes, interviewing techniques and job placement or union apprenticeships. The school offers daytime classes to students ages 16 to 20 who have already received a diploma or GED, and evening classes to adults 21 years or older without a U.S. high school diploma or GED. Contact an admissions representative to find out more, or download the fall 2012 application online.
204 West 136th Street, Manhattan
Good for: All ages
Partnering with the Verizon Technology Center, the New York Urban League opened its Technology and Education Center in 2010 to provide Internet workshops and access to students and the Harlem community. The Urban League now provides free computer classes in Internet basics and Microsoft software programs, with the intent to provide educational and career opportunities to those who need to improve their technological skills. You can register for July classes now like “Email Basics” and test your skills with practice exercises on its website.
Good for: All ages
While the Career and Technology Education program is open primarily to those ages 14 to 21 in various community training locations throughout the city, the NYC Department of Adult and Continuing Education also provides CTE courses to adults who want to expand their vocational or technical skills and go on to post-secondary education. Students can enroll in both a CTE and literary course to work towards their GED. For younger students, the Career and Technical Education program provides career exposure and in-school career instruction, and works with vocational rehabilitation and adult service agencies to ensure assistance in getting employment after school. Sample CTE courses include A+ Computer Repair, Computer Literacy, Web Page Design, MOS Certification, and much more. For adult education, find out more about enrollment and various Adult Learning Center locations here; for younger students, here.
Good for: All ages
ATTAIN, which stands for Advanced Technology and Information Networking, is a network of technology labs across the state that gives communities much needed access to technology training, education and employment opportunities. As a technology initiative funded by New York State legislature, the ATTAIN core curriculum encompasses digital literacy, life and occupational skills, and Microsoft IT certification. Labs around the city are located at community-based organizations like the Educational Opportunity Centers in each borough. Find an ATTAIN Lab near you to find out more about the program and other low-cost opportunities.
For more technology news, watch “MetroFocus: The Tech Economy,” airing on THIRTEEN on July 12 at 8:30 p.m.