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Skills, jobs don't always match

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By Diane Stafford
Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Some employers are begging for qualified applicants to fill job openings but are finding a skills mismatch between job hunters and jobs in the digital economy.

And that's prompting some job trainers to work closely with job providers to equip workers with the exact information technology skills needed.

One of them is Ted Parker at Centriq Training in Leawood, Kan., an IT training company. He is seeing big growth in that education niche.

If IT jobs interest you, you can find job-specific training in many public community colleges and in for-profit colleges like ITT Tech and DeVry. In many of those cases, the curriculum can lead to degrees.

But at Centriq, for example, in four and a half months and for about $20,000, a student in its TechSmart KC program is taught exactly what business partners say a student needs to know to be job-ready for Microsoft- and Cisco-related jobs.

Parker said that in the Kansas City area, companies like Lockton, Applebee's, Sprint Nextel, H&R Block, Commerce Bank and the Stinson Morrison Hecker law firm have worked with Centriq to identify specific needs so trainers can “teach to the test.”

The concept may not work for everyone, but “we've placed students with more than 500 companies in the Kansas City area,” Parker said.

I said the $20,000 price tag looked high for someone who is unemployed, but Parker said students can get private-side Sallie Mae loans. And he said 90 percent of his program's graduates who report back say they found jobs, often at $40,000 or so, so loan repayments can be handled.

Plus, he said: “Unemployment in the technology industry is about 3 percent, and we have more jobs to fill than we have students to fill them.”

As always, choose any training program with care, making sure the cost, timing and focus are right for you.

Diane Stafford is a writer for The Kansas City Star. She can be reached at 816-234-4359 or

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