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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 29, 202008:00 AM EST

Jacksonville University partners with company that pays students during IT training

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SkillStorm connects certified software engineers with private sector and government employers.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Jacksonville University is partnering with SkillStorm to offer an information technology course that will pay participants while they are training for a job waiting for them when they complete the curriculum and earn certification.

SkillStorm CEO Justin Vianello

“We believe we can impact the region’s economic development and make the area more attractive for tech companies,” said Justin Vianello, SkillStorm CEO.

The company’s Jacksonville office is in Deerwood Park. Vianello said it employs about 500 people and moved its headquarters to Jacksonville from Fort Lauderdale in August. SkillStorm.com lists offices in Florida, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Canada.

The Training Pathway Program also offers college graduates and military veterans two primary tracks, one for those with tech experience and one for those without.

Upon acceptance, participants with a strong technology background are hired and paid by SkillStorm, allowing them to focus on training.

During the 12-week program, they learn advanced skills and obtain certification in enterprise technologies such as Pega, Salesforce, AWS, Azure, Java, robotics and ServiceNow before being placed in a job with a SkillStorm client.

Graduates and veterans without any coding experience may complete SkillStorm’s series of free, online introductory coding courses before applying. Those who successfully pass the tech screen may be hired by SkillStorm and take the same course before joining a client company.

Program participants are paid $20-$25 per hour while in the course, depending on their security clearance level. After completing the program and receiving certification in their area of IT specialty, SkillStorm places them with companies and organizations for two-year terms of employment. 

They make $30-$45 per hour and the company or agency that employs SkillStorm’s certified software engineer pays for the training, Vianello said.

“We take the risk upfront. Most of our clients are Fortune 500 companies or federal agencies,” he said.

Vianello said the program is intensive. Participants are in training eight hours a day and have homework and assignments outside the classroom.

“It’s the equivalent of 18 months of real-world experience,” he said.

The first cohort of up to 30 participants is scheduled to begin in November at JU’s Downtown campus in VyStar Tower.

Based on its employer clients that seek certified IT technicians, Vianello said SkillStorm’s ideal business model is for half of the program participants be active duty military or reserve or veterans who meet federal security clearance requirements.

Will Miller, JU executive director of institutional analytics, effectiveness and strategic planning.

About 400 students, more than 6% of the university’s current enrollment, have a military background, said Will Miller, JU executive director of institutional analytics, effectiveness and strategic planning.

“We have a large military presence. JU prides itself on job-ready graduates,” Miller said.

JU Provost Christine Sapienza

JU Provost Christine Sapienza said the partnership with SkillStorm supports the university’s initiative to offer undergraduate and continuing education specifically designed to meet the needs of local employers.

With a grant from the health care IT company Availity, JU  established a scholarship program for nurse practitioners who want to provide independent primary care.

“We listen to what industry needs. SkillStorm is a tremendous asset,” Sapienza said.

Visit skillstorm.com/ju for details about the program.

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