Kenzie Academy Program to 'Level The Playing Field'

Chok Ooi is the co-founder and CEO of Kenzie Academy. Chok Ooi is the co-founder and CEO of Kenzie Academy.

The co-founder and chief executive officer of Kenzie Academy in Indianapolis says a new partnership will "change the equation" in growing the tech workforce. The tech training school is partnering with Michigan-based Kelly Services to launch an "Earn and Learn" program, which will allow students to earn a paycheck while enrolled. Chok Ooi says the program addresses one of the biggest barriers blocking potential students from attending and levels the playing field for future tech workers.

Students will have access to flexible, part-time, technical support services jobs through Kelly Services. The jobs are remote, allowing students to work from home after attending courses at Kenzie Academy.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Ooi said tech employers are looking for more diversity in the tech hiring pipeline. 

"You cannot really truly achieve diversity if you don't solve one of the biggest barriers of people looking to retrain themselves and go back to school, which is how can they support themselves financially while they are spending time training themselves," said Ooi. "So what you end up with is a pipeline of people who either come privileged or have the financial means to support themselves while they go to school and what you're doing is leaving out a lot of other people who have that potential, but they need to be able to earn a living while they're doing that."

Ooi says the goal is to make higher education accessible to everyone, including adult learners who recently lost their jobs or are looking for a career change, and take the financial barrier out of the picture so they can retrain themselves for a high-paying tech job. 

Kenzie Academy says the jobs provided through the program will cater to students' class schedules and will pay well above the minimum wage. Ooi adds, because the jobs are technical support positions, they will also provide additional soft skills and professional development to boost students' chances of success.

Kenzie Academy is currently accepting applications for its January courses, which will be available at its Indianapolis campuses and online.

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