Cami Lewis and Meishach Moore sit in The Historic Westside School in West Las Vegas, where they discuss the role of the Las Vegas office of the Philadelphia-based non-profit, Tech Impact
in providing workforce training for men and women who lack the skills to work in today’s office setting.
With significant support
from Barclays Bank, Tech Impact’s CXWorks trains young adults to become proficient in the use of office technology that boosts their employability.
“We know that there are a lot of opportunities for IT and call center jobs in this community, and yet there are not a lot of opportunities for education, especially for underserved or at-risk youth,” Lewis said.
Program participants range in age from 18-26 and have high school diplomas or equivalent but lack four-year college degrees and the skills that come with a college education.
Lewis, Tech Impact’s Community Manager, and a past president and chairwoman of the Henderson Community Foundation, says her mission is clear: “We really want to help the underserved youth. The driver really is to help those folks that may have a tendency toward or an ability for technical things and just don’t have the opportunity to get the education. We wanted to give them an opportunity to have a career and create a life for themselves as opposed to just bouncing from menial job to menial job.”
Moore, CXWorks Program Manager, paints a picture of the students’ skill set when they first arrive.
“A lot of them have no idea that a big part of succeeding is connecting with other people, which we do a lot of,” he said, “teaching them the business development part of growing in a career, the resume workshops, the interview skill building, how to use social media, even how to manage your money when you do become successful.
“All these components are really important not only to landing a good job that will jump-start a career but also to growing in that career. We’re looking to change generations of folks, not just these young adults' lives. We want their children to benefit and their children, their grandchildren, so on and so forth.”
What’s one of the greatest revelations for your students as they move through the 8-week program?
A lot of our students come into the program not even knowing what the possibilities are. I think we start opening the doors to what they can do when they start a career and are exposed to the skills they are going to learn when they go through class, while meeting professionals from various industries.
Who do you want to help?
We’re really seeking to help those kids that have not had the opportunities, yet, maybe their families have not had the ability to get them a further education or didn’t see the value of it. We want to give them the opportunity to make the most of what their gifts are, of what they’re able to do and maybe go beyond what they thought was possible.
What are some of the practical skills that you teach your students?
We are helping them tap into a whole new world, teaching them the skills to learn how to get on the Internet and be a part of this 21st
Century hiring machine. Getting those skills to create great resumes that they can post online and learn how to use different sites that are out there to apply for jobs now - LinkedIn, Facebook - teaching them how to create profiles that are professional that they can use on social media that will actually help attract employers to them.
What are some of the biggest changes that you see in your students as they move through the program?
When they come into class they have no confidence because they don’t have the skills they need to really find a good-paying job they enjoy going to every day to build into a career. What we teach them are the basics, but they’re very important basics. We lay a foundation so that they can be comfortable and confident in really going after a great job that they enjoy going to.
Do you feel that you’ll also benefit from your students’ success?
Selfishly, a little bit I guess. We are helping to equip the future to create, hopefully, a better world for all of us that in turn will help them create a better future for the next generation. We really want to create an opportunity and the best environment for success for these young people so that they can take that into the world.
I think that I can speak from a personal level on that because I have four kids, and they’re not of the age to go into the workplace, but I worry sometimes about my kiddos and how they’re going to succeed in this world. I know that just by being a part of this organization and being involved in these programs it’s definitely helped me to know that I am learning things here, too; and I can instill some of the things that I’ve learned in my kids to help them succeed not only on a practical level but also on an emotional and spiritual level.