Certifications guide displaced professionals into the right industry

08.06.2014 | By Jeannie Peng-Armao

Project manager, business analyst, and SharePoint administrator are a few of the job titles that often come across online job searches. For military veterans and laid-off professionals, one of the biggest challenges is how to transition into these jobs without the requested certifications or related work experience.

The Continuing and Professional Development (CPD) division at San Jacinto College offers a solution that involves employers and training directors working together to move the underemployed up to where they need to be and move the unemployed into high-demand careers. It is teamwork at its finest, where former space shuttle engineers transition into the oil and gas industry and where military veterans find their skills appreciated and utilized in other sectors.

"Training for a new industry is invaluable for military veterans," said Michael Jones, who works in secure networking and IT security with the United States Army National Guard. Jones recently completed the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) course and the certified ethical hacker course at San Jacinto College to stay current in the IT industry and gain an edge in the workforce. "Employers will give you a chance with these types of certifications. This is how I first entered the workforce, with my certifications."

An example of how San Jacinto College helps a jobseeker get his or her foot in the door is the partnership between the CPD business and professions program, The Frontline Group in Houston, and Workforce Solutions. Last Fall, Veronica Reyes with Workforce Solutions referred Frontline to CPD. Reyes works to notify jobseekers of available certification training and sends employers to San Jacinto College job fairs to find certified employees.

After the referral, The Frontline Group began assisting the College in the delivery of project management professional (commonly referred to as PMP) and Lean Six Sigma courses and giving each student an internship to showcase his or her skills to companies like Shell, Chevron Phillips, Baker Hughes, and a variety of other major oil and gas companies throughout the region.

"This is what was missing," said David Lewis, director of the business and professionals program through the CPD division. "Employees needed an opportunity to apply what they learned to an actual project."

Chris Roberts, president of The Frontline Group, said that in addition to a person having a certification, starting a portfolio of real-world experience proves that a former NASA engineer has what it takes to work in the oil and gas industry.

"You're not only capturing the academia piece around the training, but placing giving them real-life projects to complete," said Roberts. “This definitely upgrades someone's marketability.”

Top certifications that employers like Roberts look for include Lean Six Sigma, various software certifications, risk management, database, and PMP.  

Dustin Staiger, project manager with The Frontline Group, was able to upskill by completing the five-week PMP course through San Jacinto College CPD. The course gave him an understanding of the framework for project management and the understanding of specifics of how to pass the challenging global PMP exam. In addition to his training, funding from the College's Technology Training for Tomorrow (IT3) grant allowed him to train for free. Jones' courses also were funded by IT3 funding, one of a variety of grants CPD offers for unemployed or underemployed professionals and military veterans.

"Certifications are becoming more and more important for people to make themselves marketable," said Staiger. "As a consultant, I'm always submitting resumes to clients with my credentials for projects we're proposing for their company. I want to show them that I have the right skills for the projects we are proposing for them."

About the Continuing and Professional Development division
This noncredit division of the College provides training for both current and future employees in the professional and technical job sectors, as well as provides participants with open enrollment course options to enhance their lives. Professional and technical training is available through contract training, open enrollment and grant funding. For more information, call 281-476-1838.

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook.