Cal State Fullerton Offers Tech Skills to Adult Learners

To meet the needs of employers and help minimize the persistent equity gaps in California’s technology workforce, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) has partnered with SkillStorm on an initiative meant to give access to certification courses in high-demand technologies to students and alumni. These include certifications in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Salesforce, and CompTIA (cybersecurity). This initiative is largely directed to adult learners, ages 30 to 50, as well as school alumni.

Cal State Fullerton is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, which means that more than 25 percent of the total full-time undergraduate population is Hispanic or Latino. CSUF is also the largest university in the SCU system and the only campus in Orange County, California. The school has a reputation for successfully supporting first-generation and underrepresented students.

According to Debra Leahy, Dean for Extension and Associate Vice President for International Programs, the school was driven to help students keep pace with the region’s labor demand needs. “We’re designed to work with our community and also understand that there are tremendous equity gaps,” Leahy explained.

A 2017 economic impact analysis found that CSUF is a major driver of economic activity statewide, and the institution returns approximately $13.40 to California’s economy for every dollar invested by the state. Most of the economic impact is experienced in Orange and Lose Angeles counties. “Another thing that motivates me to have these programs is that I’m seeing Orange County is experiencing significant ‘brain drain.’ It’s expensive to live here and many folks are moving away and bringing their skills with them. This program equips people rather quickly with in-demand and high-paying skills in technology.”    

The program consists of two tracks. The first is SkillStorm’s Accelerator Program, which provides online, asynchronous and instructor-led courses to help students get certified in AWS, Salesforce, Pega and other enterprise technologies. The second is the Emerging Tech program, which hires, trains and certifies entry level technology talent for 10 to 12 weeks before deploying them at Fortune 500 companies and federal contractors. Both programs are available to students and professionals at any stage of their education or career, and many courses enable students to attend at their convenience, but also offer access to mentoring and training from certified instructors.

This program broadens the enrollment stream, Leahy said, and is available to alumni or enrolled students. “I had a vision that if a student is involved in a degree right now where the career path is somewhat uncertain, getting this certification on the side can only be helpful,” she pointed out. “There really isn’t any kind of learner – college level and up – who would not be qualified for these programs.” Alumni, staff and faculty get discounts on the courses, and do members of organizations that may want to partner with the school for this program.