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ALLbany Online Trains Job Seekers

October 17, 2011


ALLbany Online, a new private-public partnership that offers free services to residents of Albany (NY), is meeting the challenge that communities across the country are facing as rising unemployment and poverty combine with low levels of reading and digital literacy.

ALLbany Online is a partnership of Albany, Albany Public Library, Career Central – the Albany One Stop Center, the Capital Region Workforce Investment Board, Tech Valley Communications, New York Wired for Education and a coalition of community-based organizations. Through ALLbany Online, city residents can upgrade job skills, receive reading and digital-literacy training, access the Internet for free in designated areas of the city and obtain low-cost, WiFi-enabled, refurbished desktop computers.

"The goal is to provide every one of our citizens with opportunities to learn and grow online, especially our young people. We-re leveraging creative partnerships to transform professional, educational, and community engagement in our city,” said Mayor Gerald Jennings.

Digital literacy classes are conducted in Community Technology Centers (CTCs) where job skill assessments and job training tap into Metrix Learning, NY Wired for Education’s e-training platform. The online platform gives job seekers access to thousands of courses and assessments from a diverse collection of learning-content providers, helping prospective employees strengthen their job skills and become more competitive in the workforce.

The Community Technology Centers are based in neighborhoods, and many are open five to seven days a week. The CTC's that conduct digital literacy classes and Metrix Learning orientation sessions include those at Albany's Department of Youth and Workforce Services, the main public library and library branches, and two community-based organizations, the Altamont Program and Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region.

Working in conjunction with the Capital Region Workforce Investment Board, Albany’s Department of Youth and Workforce Services offers digital literacy and Metrix Learning training to customers in its Youth programs and at its One Stop Center. The program is already seeing results: Between January and August of this year, a total of 336 Metrix Learning users were added to the system, completing 1,355 activities and consuming 1,999 total hours of coursework.

With every Workforce Investment Board across the country seeing increased demand from job seekers, “ALLbany Online is a great opportunity to deliver a comprehensive service that will meet the need in multiple locations,” said Capital Region Workforce Investment Board Executive Director Daniel Gentile. “The expanded use of Metrix Learning will provide an opportunity for thousands to enhance their skills in the pursuit of employment.”

In recent months, the Albany Public Library has increased the capacity of its Public Computing Center (PCC) through the partnership, providing additional computing center staffing, more daily computer-access hours and a greater number of digital-literacy and job search-related workshops. During June, July, and August of this year, the PCC served an additional 360 people, a dramatic increase from the previous months.

Efforts by the Albany Public Library to expand its job-preparedness services have had noteworthy results and feedback. According to PCC Manager Analee Giraldo, two Metrix Learning users were pleased to find that they could receive Six Sigma certification training.

Similar training through an issued Individual Training Account (ITA) would normally cost $3,000-$5,000. In the past two months, four people have reported to staff that they have found employment. Through ALLbany Online, Tech Valley Communications has expanded Albany FreeNet, the telecommunications company's high'speed wireless internet service, within city neighborhoods with low Internet adoption. Between April and June ofthis year, Albany FreeNet users consumed an average of 96,753 hours of internet sessions per month.

Trinity Alliance as an ALLbany Online partner and CTC has used digital-literacy classes and Metrix Learning in carrying out its mission to "promote education and employment as a means of self-development." Instructors have given a series of five digital-literacy classes. Based upon their progress and desire to learn job skills, clients have been referred to the Metrix Learning system.

The Altamont Program, which is part of the Peter Young Housing, Industries and Treatment Foundation, works with recently released incarcerated youth to prepare them to receive their Work Readiness Credential. Local young people, ages 18-24, use Metrix Learning in preparation for this nationally recognized credential, taking a specialized group of classes within the Metrix system to gain the necessary skills.

ALLbany Online is funded through the local Workforce Investment Board, a New York State Universal Broadband Access grant, and the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant. Since funding for the new Albany partnership comes from the federal government, the program can be replicated in any city in America.

ALLbany Online was built upon the principle of delivering service to the largest possible number of citizens in need, on a reduced budget. As far as program costs, digital-literacy classes and library content with 500-plus free e-training courses assembled by New York Wired are free. Metrix Learning license costs vary based on volume ordered-5,000 Metrix licenses cost $60 each and 100,000 licenses cost $40 each, with supported online chat and support ticket system included. Reading-literacy licenses through ReadingPlus at $600 for 50 concurrent licenses would cost $30,000 on a three-year basis.

The ALLbany Online, through the direct delivery of free services, aims to eliminate the digital divide and help unemployed people work toward job readiness.

For more information, visit the website www.ALLbanyonline.com.