Six months after beginning classes in the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s (SVHEC) IT Academy, the region has 14 newly trained information technology (IT) professionals. The SVHEC recently held a completion ceremony to celebrate first cohort of IT Academy (ITA) students.

Students recently completed the training program geared towards earning three CompTIA industry-recognized credentials in A+, Server+ and Network+.

To date, program completers have earned 35 credentials, including the National Career Readiness Certificate, and most importantly, have seen their training lead to employment. Of the eight students who were looking for immediate jobs, six of them went to work at a regional datacenter as soon as their training was complete.

“I came to the IT Academy as an unemployed veteran. After obtaining three certifications, I left the academy as an employed veteran with a well-known, highly regarded IT Enterprise Company in Clarksville,” said IT Academy completer Myra Ragland.

“I am extremely proud of our first group of students,” said Kelly Shotwell, IT academy project manager and trainer. “They remained focused on their goals and worked very hard throughout the entire five-month program. As a result, 75 percent of those seeking IT positions have already found work at either the data center in Boydton or Clarksville.  I believe this speaks to the dedication of the students and trainers, the relevancy of the program, and the willingness of area employers to be directly involved with our training efforts including hiring our IT Academy completers,” Shotwell added.

IT Academy participants complete hands-on lab exercises in a setting that mimics datacenter workplaces and finish the core curriculum within five months. Students in the first cohort traveled from across the region including Chase City, Sutherlin, Clover and North Carolina to take advantage of the short-term training.

Looking ahead, SVHEC and Southside Virginia Community College are developing a partnership that will allow students the option of receiving college credit for completing this workforce training program.

“The IT Academy provided me with a stable foundation of knowledge that not only increased my IT skills but also started me on the path to success in the world of IT,” ITA completer Myra Ragland said. “I am truly grateful and appreciative of those who supported the vision of the IT Academy and made it come to fruition in South Boston.  A special thank you goes out to Kelly Shotwell (project manager/trainer), Aaron Chandler (trainer) and Chris Morris (trainer) for their time, energy and devotion toward equipping each student with the necessary tools to achieve personal and professional goals,” she said.

The IT Academy is an initiative of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center with funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Individuals interested in enrolling in the ITA including recent high school graduates, unemployed/dislocated workers, and career switchers should contact Shotwell at, 434-572-5660 and toll free 1-800-283-0098 ext 5660.