Northwest NEWS

May 7, 2001

Local News

Unique collaboration creates information technology training center

by Deborah Stone
   The new Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (PSC) recently opened its doors in Bothell's Canyon Park Business Center on the I-405 technology corridor. This innovative, non-profit training provider represents a unique collaboration between Edmonds and Shoreline Community Colleges and other educational institutions, funded by a grant provided by the Morgridge Family Foundation.
   The Boeing Company and local high tech companies, as well as grants from federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also provide additional support for PSC. The center was created to fulfill a dire need for technically trained professionals in the Puget Sound area. A biannual survey released recently by the Washington Software Association found about 8,000 unfilled positions in the information technology (IT) industry, with an expected 12,000 more likely over the next two years.
   Given time, this severe shortage of qualified professionals could cost the state $12 billion in lost revenues. PSC is one solution to this problem since it is created to focus on providing IT training to working IT professionals, teachers in the technology field and disadvantaged youth and adults seeking IT careers.
   "It's not only high tech companies and dot-coms that need skilled IT workers," says Bill McMeekin, PSC executive director. "Almost every business and every industry in our region relies on information technology to keep their doors open and their operations profitable."
   A wide variety of courses are offered at PSC in Web languages and programming, network and Web security, wireless applications, graphics and multi-media, Web developer and design certificates, network certifications, and Certified Internet Webmaster for instructors.
   Twenty-two classes are on the schedule for summer session and McMeekin predicts approximately 200 students will register initially. PSC aims to be more than a classroom.
   "It is a working vision of a real-world technology environment," explains McMeekin. "Instructors are practicing industry experts who have a successful track record in real-world experience and proven skills as facilitators.The learning is hands-on in world-class training suites featuring small class sizes (16 maximum) with the newest high tech equipment."
   Flex-training options are available to fit working professionals' busy schedules and courses can be customized to meet the needs of a company's employees.
   In addition, PSC will custom design programs to address a specific organization's training requirements. The Center plans to play an important role in helping businesses remain competitive by keeping their workforce current and by creating market-ready IT professionals.
   According to McMeekin, course tuition costs will be kept affordable because PSC's funding base does not rely solely on participants' fees.
   He says, "Our funding is solid and broad-based, which allows us to deliver high quality IT training at an affordable cost."
   The PSC Board of Directors estimates that it will take at least three to five years to build a permanent facility for the center after assessing the programs offered and client training demands. It anticipates an annual operating budget of $1.2 million and the ability to serve 3,000 students per year.
   A free career forum will be offered May 15 and 22, from 6-7 p.m. at the center's new Canyon Park headquarters.
   The public can meet with high tech professionals, learn about the latest IT career trends, get help with future career plans and network with practicing professionals from Web design, development, programming and networking.
   For more information about PSC, call (425) 640-1950 or check out its Web site at www.pugetsoundcenter.org.