Prepares students to develop skills in area with job shortage

In a world with many unemployed people, potential students at Hart Career Center have the opportunity to enroll in a course of studies which will help them avoid that category. The Computer and Network Support class, taught by Craig Knight, prepares students for employment in an area the Workforce Development experts in Columbia describe as having a "dire shortage" in central Missouri.
Enrollment in the class is now open for the 2013-14 school year, for students from all eight sending schools as well as Mexico High School students. In the class, the students will build and modify computers, design and build their own networks, and work with various mobile technologies.
"We also cover how computers and other devices can communicate with each other over networks," Knight said. "The class teaches students about the computer system from how all of the components work, to how to troubleshoot problems that might occur."
The class prepares students to earn an internationally-recognized Information Technology (IT) support certification. The IT certificate is often required or preferred by employers looking for entry-level IT support employees.
Knight believes the class gives prospective employees an advantage.
"The program is designed to prepare students to work in an IT support role," he said. "These employees are the ones who would be called upon to handle technology issues within a business, and to design, set up, and support any technologies the company uses. The class also prepares students for additional education, and gives them a major head start over other students at the college level."
The students in the class also are members of the SkillsUSA organization, which allows them to participate in leadership and competitive events.
"A number of students from this program earned medals in the Computer Maintenance Technology competition at both the district and state level," Knight said. "Students have also earned medals at the state level in various leadership competitions."
The class, and its curriculum, earned praise from graduate Skyler Wathen in a recent letter to Knight. Wathen, who is a student at the University of Central Missouri, has had steady part-time employment while attending school. He also has been accepted as a summer intern with a company in Kansas City.
"I have been hired as a server administrator with American Century Investments, which is a top company in America right now with a net worth of $124 billion," Wathen said. "They told me they would be letting me loose and if I have any questions I should ask my supervisor, just like in the real job force."
Wathen was one of 100 applicants for the internship.
"What separated me from the other applicants was the work I did at Hart Career Center," he said. "They were impressed with my knowledge and practical experience with patch panel work, active directory services, and especially with my work with LINUX. I hope this encourages your students if they choose to pursue IT. They will be far ahead of everyone else, and there is a lot of money available in this area."
Dr. Mickie Shank, HCC director, encourages students with an interest in computers to consider enrolling in the class.
"I hope students will explore the credibility and depth of learning that occurs in the Computer and Network Support class," she said. "Students, counselors and administrators are invited to visit the class so they can see firsthand about this hands-on applied learning course which leads to college and career readiness."