Source: Sacramento Bee (published: Monday, Jun. 14, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 5B) by Darrell Smith –

In Sacramento’s still-struggling employment market, the region’s tech sector continues to offer reason for hope. Sacramento tech postings are surging, said job search site More companies are adding positions, gearing up and growing, said officials at the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance. And at Greater Sacramento Urban League, 3725 Marysville Blvd, a class of 30 is learning the skills needed to enter the tech job market. Students in the class, called TechCert, receive free training to become certified as computer technicians.

“This is a boot camp for the tech world. We’re preparing people for a new working environment,” said Darby Patterson, Sacramento program director of the nonprofit Stride Center, the Oakland-based career training organization teaching the course. “We track the news like everybody else, and the greatest survivability is in tech,” Patterson said. “Everybody in business needs their systems to work.”

Students range from high school age to workers 50 and over. Many are low-income or displaced workers looking to gain a foothold in today’s economy. The comprehensive 23-week course takes students from computer upgrades and repair to troubleshooting, removing viruses and loading operating systems, all toward testing for A+ certification demonstrating competency as a computer technician.
The course is funded by a $591,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to the local Urban League through the state’s Employment Development Department. Local Urban League officials took notice last year of a Stride Center computer training pilot program in North Sacramento and joined forces with the Stride Center on TechCert. “We knew there was some tech training that wasn’t available to low-income residents,” said Taurus Jackson, an Urban League vice president. “We can provide a service for free that people would otherwise have to make a financial sacrifice to get training.”

Colleen Brittain of North Highlands graduated from the pilot program in December, went on to earn her A+ certification and now is a volunteer coordinator for the Stride Center in Sacramento.

Brittain is still seeking work after being laid off from her job at a Roseville warehouse in June 2008, but said earning the certification should make her more marketable in the workplace and provide her with a better-paying job. Stride Center also helps match program graduates with potential employers. She said entry-level computer techs can earn from $13 to $30 an hour.

“There are a lot more skills I can offer” with the certification, Brittain said. “Finding a job is difficult still with the economy, but any skills you can add definitely help.” The first Urban League class graduated in April, with 31 of 32 students going on to receive A+ certification. “We think this will make a difference,” said David DeLuz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Sacramento Urban League. “This helps us provide a significantly elevated level of opportunity for people in our community.”

For more information on the TechCert program, visit the Stride Center online at, or the Greater Sacramento Urban League at

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