Adult Learners Receive Free IT Training at RIC Workforce Hub

Two students discuss over computer

“The goal is to inspire them to continue their IT education and/or pursue employment in the IT industry,” says Professor Bain.

Adult English Language Learners (ELLs) are narrowing the gap between themselves and a lucrative career in information technology. Twenty students began taking a free IT course at the RIC Workforce Hub last semester. The training runs for two semesters – fall 2023 and spring 2024 – and covers the fundamentals of information technology.

This course is the result of a $500,000 U.S. Department of Education grant obtained by James Langevin, former congressman and distinguished chair of RIC’s Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies, specifically for underserved, unemployed and underemployed adult English Language Learners. The grant project director is Lisa Bain, professor of computer information systems and director of the RI STEAM Center at RIC.

Bain developed the curriculum and hired the co-instructors – Margarita Martinez (for Fall 2023) and Justin Dodd (for Spring 2024), who teach the IT portion of the course, and Sylvia Stipich, who provides ESL support.

IT instructor overlooking students at computers
Instructor Justin Dodd (standing) observes student’s progress.

“This course covers a large breadth of IT topics,” Dodd says, “ranging from hardware basics to networking and security practices with the goal of having the students take and pass the CompTIA ITF+ certification exam.”

“We are moving forward at a steady pace,” he says, “and the students have been working exceptionally hard, whether it be completing my quizzes and labs or watching and reading resource materials. With Sylvia's assistance they have also been taking extremely in-depth notes on the wording of the material and how to review the material.”

ESL instructor works with students
Instructor Sylvia Stipich (far left) works with students.

“The goal,” Stipich says, “is to build both soft skills in communication while learning the concepts and terminology used in the IT industry.”


Entire IT classroom

This training also exposes students to the wide variety of jobs in the IT sector.

One student, 53-year-old Erick B., who is currently employed as an assembly technician, says his interests are in either IT tech support or cybersecurity. “Through this training, I’ve learned how to set up and maintain peripherals and troubleshoot connectivity problems,” he says, “which IT employers are looking for.”

Cindy Donado, age 38, is employed as an assembly operator. She wants to become a computer network architect. “This training is helping me achieve that goal by building the skills I need for that field and increasing my knowledge and understanding of the industry,” she says.

Once the course ends, students may take the IT industry certification exam to apply for entry-level IT positions. In addition, a career readiness workshop developed by Bain will be offered at the Hub to assist students with job hunting.

“The goal is to inspire them to continue their IT education and/or pursue employment in the IT industry,” Bain says. “It helps their upward mobility and it helps the State of Rhode Island.”

RIC offers a B.A. and B.S. degree in computer science; a B.S. degree in computer information systems, a B.S. degree in cybersecurity; and minors in computer information systems, computer science, cybersecurity, data analytics and Web development. To learn more about these programs visit the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.