The Future is Built on Lessons from the Past
Tech Foundry was born out a passion shared by Delcie Bean and Josh Finkel to improve the economic conditions of Western Mass while also providing exciting new career opportunities to the area’s youth. On April 28th 2013, after 5 years of continuously being frustrated with the lack of talent in Western Massachusetts, they came up with a plan to address the workforce shortage in the Pioneer Valley. In doing so, they designed a program so robust that it could be leveraged to create economic growth for the entire Pioneer Valley.
Our first 6 months was spent preparing for our first class. Our beautiful space was donated to us rent-free for the first year, but it needed some help. Many gallons of paint and new carpet did wonders. Recruitment began and the curriculum was developed with area employers input. Staff was hired January 1st, and on July 7th, 2014 our Inaugural class began. These high school seniors worked diligently for 6 full-time weeks on learning soft and technical skills. We took a field trip to regional employers and students worked every Thursday at an internship to get more hands on experience.
In September we transitioned into an after school program and students were required to come into Tech Foundry for a minimum of 5 hours per week. Technical classes continued to be offered during these evening hours, and for an additional 9 months students learned and grew as professionals. This class graduated in June 2015. Many of them are pursuing computer science degrees, and 5 of them have been placed into regional entry level IT jobs.
Our second class began in July 2015. We had made several modifications to the program including recruiting students who had already graduated high school, condensing the program into 14 weeks, and making it full time. We were able to spend significantly more time training these students in soft and technical skills. They completed the program in early October 2015, and so far already 7 of them have been offered positions with regional employers. As we grow we will continue to explore different populations and tweak the program to be more effective.