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Newsday article on TCS IT Program

LI nonprofit helps train disabled jobseekers for IT careers

Corporate Source graduate Geoffrey Johnson at his computer that he built at his home in Shinnecock Hills on

Friday, March 4, 2022. Credit: Morgan Campbell

By Victor Ocasio Updated

March 9, 2022 5:00 AM

Six trainees selected by the Corporate Source, a Garden City non -profit that hires individuals with disabilities, are

graduating Wednesday from the organization’s inaugural IT training program.

The graduates, all individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities, applied and were accepted to participate in the 12 –

week program free of charge last fall. The virtual training sessions began in November and ended last month.

“I feel like my confidence is higher than it used to be,” said Geoffrey Johnson, 33, of Hampton Bays, one of the graduates.

As an avid computer gamer, Johnson, who is on the autism spectrum, said he built his first computer at 13. Despite his

interest in technology, Johnson said the course load for the program was no easy task.

“It was 4-hour days, Monday through Friday, then homework on the weekends,” he said. “This was like taking more than a

couple of college courses. It was not easy by any means.” The program is the result of a partnership between the Corporate Source and CompTIA – the Computing Technology

Industry Association – an Illinois-based trade group that issues professional certificatio ns for the IT industry.

After finishing the program and passing two exit exams, Johnson and his classmates earned their CompTIA A+

certification, an industry-recognized training certificate.

The Corporate Source hires and coaches people with both physical and intellectual disabilities to work on contracts for

other companies and government agencies, usually in jobs like landscaping, janitorial services and mailroom work.

Students in the IT program were trained to analyze, troubleshoot and evaluate common te chnology problems, and their

certification will prepare them for jobs as entry level IT specialists and tech support staff, organizers said.

“There are so many job opportunities in IT,” said Kelly Quinn, chief financial officer for the Corporate Source. “T he next

step is to provide these participants the support they need to get them a job.”

Helping disabled individuals train for the growing tech field should provide them more work opportunities, program

organizers said. The unemployment rate for individuals with a disability was 10.1% in 2021, compared with 5.1% for those

without disabilities, according to federal data.

Christos Morris, chief executive of eVero Corp., a Melville software developer that makes tools for organizations that

provide services to the intellectually disabled, said IT needs have only grown as remote work has made businesses more

reliant on technology.

“It’s a growing demand because IT is running everyone’s business,” he said.

Teresa Varela of Coram, director of workforce development for CompTIA, said employers last month “advertised openings

for nearly 25,000 IT support specialists and 388,000 IT jobs in total.” She said the New York metro area had more than

20,000 IT job openings last month, the most in the country.

John White, another graduate, said the training has given him the tools he needs to get back into the workforce after

several years of being out.

White, 55, of Jackson Heights, Queens, said he had been on disability since 2017, when an autoimmune issue forced him

to leave his job as an electro-mechanical field technician.

White said he now hopes to land a job handling IT issues for a nonprofit.

“I’m very hopeful,” White said. “I feel good because I think there’s a lot of positions open especially for entry level peopl e

in the IT world since the pandemic started.”

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Established in 1996, The Corporate Source provides people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities with well-paying, secure jobs from New York City and Long Island to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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