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Inacom’s Youth Apprentice Program Prepares Madison Area Teens for Careers in Technology Fields

Inacom Information Systems was recently recognized for its pilot project in collaboration with the Dane County Area Youth Apprenticeship Program. Since the beginning of the program in 1992, Inacom has provided information technology training, teaching and on-the-job training to primarily high-school students from Sun Prairie, Waunakee, Madison East and Monona Grove.

The Youth Apprentice Program is beneficial for students because a connection is made between education and real world work skills. The program is also valuable for employers because they benefit from well-educated student employees. Inacom Information Systems is providing technology training to high school students as a part of the Powered Up STS (Student Tech Support) program. The program is sponsored by a group of school, community, business and government representatives looking to raise interest and knowledge of information technology occupations among teens.

"The Youth Apprentice Program is aimed at career fields predicted to have a shortage of skilled workers," said Russell Plagemann, a Career and Technical Education Coordinator with the Madison Metropolitan School District. Some technical skills acquired by students in the Information Technology apprentice program include repairs and configuration of computer hardware and software and assistance with networking projects. In addition to Information Technology, students can be apprentices in the Automotive, Biotechnology and Health Care Industries.

The program is funded by a TEACH grant (Technology for Educational Achievement) for 18 months and is sponsored by UW DoIT (University of Wisconsin Department of Information Technology), who donates the training curriculum, as well as Edgewood College, who provides college student mentors that are knowledgeable about the specific industries.

Tami Retzlaff, Inacom's Corporate Recruiter, is the project leader. "Once completed with the Powered Up training, the 30 ninth and tenth grade students will be qualified to assist their own schools' IT staff," she said. Students will also learn "soft skills" such as customer service and interpersonal communication skills. "This is an opportunity for realistic career exploration. Students can test out their interests and abilities," said Retzlaff.
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Students were chosen for the program using criteria such as grade-point average, faculty recommendations and a personal statement. The chosen students comprise a diverse population representative of their respective schools.

Inacom Information Systems is a Madison owned and operated consulting firm formed in 1984, and serves customers in the Madison, Milwaukee and Fox Valley markets. It offers business solutions in the areas of Security, Development, Education, Internetworking, Storage, Project Management and Product Procurement and provides technology solutions to many businesses and organizations specializing in technology consulting, education and procurement. The company offers in-house or onsite authorized hardware repair, hardware and software configuration and staff augmentation services.

Inacom serves to provide technology solutions to businesses and educational institutions throughout Wisconsin, including Cuna Mutual, Alliant Energy, General Casualty, Covance and Famous Footwear.

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