Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nonprofit Promotes Intensive Job Training

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nonprofit Promotes Intensive Job Training

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Zhanellis Banks has had jobs. But Banks, who graduated from high school earlier this year, wanted more. She wanted a career.

As a student in Generation Jacksonville, a nonprofit that provides free "bootcamp-style" training programs mostly for disadvantaged youth, she found her niche. On Dec. 21, she graduated from the information technology program with a technical support technician position at Convergys and is seeking additional certifications.

"This program puts you in the professional mindset. I'm no longer looking for the highest paying fast-food position," she said. "It puts you in a structured environment ... gets your mind moving and beats waiting around for a job to call you back."

Founded in 2014 by McKinsey & Company, a worldwide management consulting firm, Generation runs an intensive six- to 12-week employment program in about 60 cities in five countries, mostly for young adults. The Jacksonville affiliate has training in informational technology - for computer-user and network support employment - and retail career advancement for positions in the retail, service and hospitality sectors.

The program integrates technical training with behavioral skills training to help students overcome personal challenges or barriers to employment, such as having a disability, being a single parent, living in a low-income household or having no work experience.

"We take individuals from a range of life experiences," said Alex Rudnick, the local retail program coordinator. "What's most important is their willingness to learn and complete the program."

Participants must have one or more barriers to employment and be high school graduates or have a General Equivalency Development, or GED, diploma; authorized to work in the United States; and able to pass a drug screen and criminal background check. Students in the Jacksonville informational technology program have to be ages 18 to 24.

"A lot of our students come through referrals from our alumni. They've had such positive experiences that they want their friends and family who might be struggling to experience the program too," said Rachel Shannon, the local information technology program coordinator.

Graduates have guaranteed job interviews with Generation's employer partners, which locally include Convergys, C7 Creative, Girl's Inc., Interchanges, CrossView Mortgage, Lumbee Group, SuperFi and Local Goods.

"The Generation program allows us to get involved in our community's future by building up a generation of leaders," said C7 Creative CEO Calvin Bryant. "We are thankful for the opportunity ... to make a difference in the Jacksonville community and beyond. The Generation program has given us the tools to do this."

About 250 students have graduated from the Jacksonville program in the past two years. …

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