Residents trained for tech apprenticeships

Some residents were hired to work as paid apprentices in the TECH Center and the Computer Recycling Center.

Evockeea Wayenahan, 60, works at her apprenticeship at the Computer Recycling Center in Pearson Hall on Thursday. | WILL BLEIER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

UPDATED at 4:35 p.m. on Feb. 10

The university’s Computer Recycling Center is partnering with the Philadelphia-based homelessness nonprofit Project HOME to offer community residents a paid technology apprenticeship at Temple.

Together, the Computer Recycling Center and Project HOME, which combats issues of poverty and homelessness, provided participants with 10 weeks of training in technology courses in the fall before they began a nine-week rotating apprenticeship program.

During the apprenticeship, which began on Jan. 29, nine residents work at the Computer Recycling Center, the Computer Services help desk in the TECH Center and in computer labs on campus. They will rotate through these different departments every three weeks.

“We figured if we could teach a group of people in the community digital literacy, then they could become the resident experts to help support if we were to donate technology into the community,” said Jonathan Latko, director of the Computer Recycling Center and the apprentice program. “The expectation after is that they give back, and apply their knowledge to help out.”

Residents trained in Fall 2017 to prepare for the two-part CompTIA A+ exam, a third-party industry assessment, which tests mastery in troubleshooting devices, familiarity with computer internals and other skills. The first part of the exam was administered on Jan. 26 and six of 14 residents passed, with one student who agreed to retake the test one month into the apprenticeship.

The seven residents who completed the exam then moved onto the university apprenticeships.

Terence Oliver, 57, of Spring Garden and Evockeea Wayenahan, 60, of Chinatown are two resident apprentices working for Latko at the Computer Recycling Center. They pick up surplus technology from university departments, and fix the products to potentially redistribute at Temple or in the surrounding community.

“In the beginning, I thought I knew most of the stuff, as I was preparing for the test, and I found out there was a lot of stuff I wasn’t exposed to yet,” Oliver said. “There’s a ton of stuff to learn. It’s a great opportunity if you put forth the effort.”

“I’m learning a lot more than I knew,” Wayenahan said. “So this is definitely a valuable experience.”

The participants work three days a week at their university apprenticeships, and after their shifts, they go to Honickman Learning Center, which is Project HOME’s center for employment and education. Both Wayenahan and Oliver live in a Project HOME residence, which is how they learned about the apprenticeship program.

At the center, they study for the second part of the CompTIA A+ exam that they’ll complete at the end of the apprenticeship. The rest of the day is used for career coaching. Participants will be prepared for future careers in technology.

Alexis Pugh, the director of workforce solutions at Project HOME, helped choose the possible candidates who were presented to Temple for the program.

“Project HOME does recruitment across our sites,” Pugh said “This person then has to apply, and after they do the application, then we do a needs assessment and an assessment on skill level. We then do interviewing to make sure this person is interested in going into this, because it’s a commitment.”

Latko said students who excel within the program will be encouraged to apply for technology job openings at the university.

“I didn’t know anything about computers before this, so it’s really interesting to know how the things you use and take for granted work,” Wayenahan said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the most accurate information provided to The Temple News, regarding the number of participants who passed the CompTIA A+ exam.

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