Americans are so “plugged in” that it seems impossible to get through an hour of the day without reaching for and relying on some form of technology. As our reliance on technology grows, so grows the employment sector for Information Technologies (IT)– a fact that recently inspired Congressman Keith Ellison to visit American Indian OIC.
AIOIC president Joe Hobot and key members of the AIOIC leadership team welcomed the opportunity to discuss workforce development strategies with the Congressman, who highlighted the fact there are many jobs available to individuals who possess knowledge and competency in specialized programming and coding languages currently in-demand in the IT sector. Congressman Ellison shared his first hand knowledge of employers who are struggling to find qualified IT professionals.
Congressman Ellison’s observations affirmed that AIOIC is on track to be a part of the solution, with their recent decision to add workshops on SQL, Java and Windows PowerShell, to the list of Takoda Institute IT courses. AIOIC President Joe Hobot explained, “Our hope is that these programs will allow people who possess previous computer knowledge to broaden their skill set in order to be highly competitive applying for jobs within the IT industry.”
Congressman Ellison also suggested that AIOIC partner with the #YesWeCode movement. #YesWeCode is an initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to become highly-skilled programmers. Another new AIOIC initiative that aligns perfectly with #YesWeCode, includes offering an IT track for students enrolled at Takoda Prep, AIOIC’s alternative high school,. The big idea behind the high school IT program is to provide teenaged students with an edge for becoming successful and self sufficient in the future, by exposing them to advanced training in computer programming and coding while still in high school. Also, the rigorous nature of IT coursework planned for Takoda Prep will provide graduates with the foundation necessary to pursue higher education opportunities available at the Takoda Institute. AIOIC’s goal is to provide Takoda Prep students an opportunity to follow an IT pathway starting in high school and continuing all the way through college, ultimately attaining a promising career position with the help of AIOIC Career Services counselors.
Reflecting on Congressman Ellison’s visit Prakash Adiani, Education Director at the Takoda Institute observed, “Congressman Ellison’s visit affirmed that our IT focused education and workforce development programs are right on trend with opportunity and demand in the IT sector.”
The American Indian OIC (AIOIC) is pleased to announce that Joe Hobot has assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer. As the new executive leader of the organization, Mr. Hobot’s principle focus is set on expanding the education and workforce development opportunities for American Indians and others that improve the economic power of families and reduce economic disparities. He has great energy for the mission of the organization and expects to continue to modernize the agency’s infrastructure, further build its program capacity to address the needs of the community, and to broaden the AIOIC’s overall reach throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Previous to this post, Mr. Hobot served as AIOIC’s Education Director with oversight of the agency’s contract alternative high school, Adult Basic Education/GED program, and Takoda Institute of Higher Education. In this role, he feels his greatest accomplishments were attaining a 50% increase in participation in the ABE/GED program, developing higher level entry level programs in the fields of IT and Public Relations, procurement of new accreditation for the institution, becoming one of just a few schools to reach compliance with Adequate Yearly Progress Measures as determined by “No Child Left Behind” legislation, and sustaining high graduation rates throughout AIOIC’s education programs.
Mr. Hobot states, “I believe in the inherent ability, capability, decency, and hope possessed by all people. When these passions are invoked, there is no limit to what a person can accomplish. Our job therefore – through the work of the American Indian OIC – is to reconnect people to that which they already possess. We are here to help people rediscover and further develop the talents and skill sets that they already hold. In so doing, the people who come to the American Indian OIC will quickly reawaken their personal drive to accomplish great things – not only for themselves, but for their families and communities as well.”
Mr. Hobot is a Lakota descendant of the Hunk Papa Band of the Standing Rock Nation. He holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of St. Thomas and is currently a doctoral student of education at Hamline University.
The American Indian OIC has long recognized the importance of education as a pre-requisite for embarking upon a career within the modern economy. Without training and a highly developed skill set, employment becomes nothing more than a mere job acquisition – which only serves as temporary alleviation of long-term economic distress. This is not a solution the people of our community are interested in nor can they advance in this environment. Instead, AIOIC supports a robust training and educational model that will empower candidates to be hired in positions in professional careers and that will allow themselves and their families to thrive within the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the current investment in “career training” for populations of poverty – which tend to be highly comprised of people of color – only allow quick, low-skilled options which lead to low skill, low wage jobs. According to the most recent Affirmative Action Data Packet (a joint research effort between MN DEED and the Minnesota Office of Human Rights that examines employment data along racial lines every five years) the greater Twin Cities region continues to exhibit a gulf between non-minority people and minority people in terms of securing long-term and innovative career pathways. The most recent report, covering the years between 2006 through 2010, indicates that the occupations with the largest minority populations remain low-level, low-wage types of employment. Pathways where the percentages between white people and minorities are relatively equal or comprised of a larger minority presence include: cooks; dishwashers; maids and housekeeping cleaners; baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges; telephone operators; and food processing workers. Although this individualized are employed and therefore considered contributing to the overall economy, the very nature of these appointments (low-level, low-wage positions) actually serves to prevent minority populations from advancing and from thriving. Because people in these positions often have to work longer hours in an attempt to compensate for the low rates of pay, minority populations continue to struggle to advance economically when compared to those working higher-level, higher-wage jobs (which are according to this data principally populated by white people). This combination of a lack of real, meaningful employment opportunities – coupled with a need to commit longer hours towards earning a sustainable wage – has swelled the ranks of the employed yet impoverished. In short, these people are the “working poor” of our state, and they are disproportionately represented by minority populations. We have serious concerns about the current economic disparities that still plague Minnesota’s minority populations – particularly among American Indians. AIOIC intends to host a series of World Café events that bring in American Indian service providers – as well as the indigenous community itself – to evaluate the efficacy of current education, training, and employment programs used by American Indians, and to further examine the causality of the pervasive joblessness and unemployment that persists among our people so that we may effectively direct our efforts going forward. Our first event will be held on August 14th with details on event to come soon.