Fort Wayne, Ind.-based JobWorks Education & Training Systems (JETS) won the Education Impact Award during TechPoint’s 24th annual Mira Awards gala honoring the best of tech in Indiana.

WATCH VIDEO: JobWorks Chief Human Resource Officer Vic Oberhausen accept the Education Impact Award.

Tech positions in Indiana and around the world are in white-hot demand and supply is woefully short, which is why TechPoint launched its Mission41K initiative in 2022, a collaborative effort to inclusively add 41,000 people to the Hoosier tech workforce by 2025. 

Hitting that mark will undoubtedly be helped by JobWorks Education & Training Systems (JETS), the Fort Wayne-headquartered, 2023 TechPoint Mira Education Impact Award winner. The award recognizes STEM educators, organizations, coaches, programs and platforms that inspire and open doors for learners of any ages, create economic opportunities and have an undeniably positive impact on student achievement and the future workforce. 

For nearly 40 years, JETS has helped Hoosiers connect to meaningful careers. Its training division, JobWorks Education and Training Systems, delivers virtual boot camps that have supercharged those efforts and are providing accessible, life-changing opportunity to underrepresented Hoosiers throughout Indiana. Despite entering the organization’s program with no prior tech training, 85 percent of its employed graduates hold tech positions, earning more than $19 an hour on average, an increase of about 25 percent over their pre-program wage on average. This is achieved in as few as 12 weeks from beginning the course.

Nearly 61 percent of those new students come from underrepresented groups. 

WATCH VIDEO: Purdue University is a Gold Sponsor and an Individual Award Sponsor of the 2023 TechPoint Mira Awards.

By relying on a fast, efficient, and supportive program model, as well as a custom-made virtual learning platform, JETS provides an on-ramp to the tech industry for non-traditional students without requiring the long lead time or high out-of-pocket costs of a college degree. This is new and innovative for two key reasons:  

1. The curriculum incorporates mindset and confidence-building material that addresses many of the barriers faced by students underrepresented in tech, and  

2. It has created an ecosystem of employer, funding, and community partners that reduces or eliminates the cost of their education, connecting students to real job opportunities after graduation; and addresses a wide range of issues addressing mental health, and financial counseling. 

JETS virtual IT boot camps pair live, instructor-led training, industry-recognized certifications, with a high-touch supportive approach, mindset coaching, career-readiness training, a custom-made virtual learning platform, and an engaged network of technology employers that actively recruit students after their graduation. Students enroll in a boot camp that matches their interests and skill level, including those that prepare for IT support, coding, cybersecurity, and network roles. An IT career exposure program is also available for youth who want insight into the various career tracks in IT by sampling hands-on and industry-aligned work activities.

This model is faster, more affordable, and more nimble than traditional educational pathways. 

As an example of the power of this program, one JETS student joined the program after losing his job as a warehouse worker in northeast Indiana. Through a funding partner, he received a grant to attend the program, so he had no out-of-pocket costs. He participated in an engaging virtual live class for 12 weeks, earned two industry IT certifications, and immediately landed his first job in IT. 

Students often see significant wage jumps over time. For example, several students have reported salaries approaching six figures just two years after graduation, despite an average pre-program hourly wage of about $15. Job titles from recent Indiana graduates include Help Desk Tech Security Specialist, Systems Analyst, Network Technician, and Developer.

More than 700 students have been served through JETS technology boot camps since launching in 2019. 

Because so many JETS students do not see others who look like them in the current IT space,  program includes mindset coaching, confidence building, and other supportive activities to address these challenges, boost confidence, and increase learning outcomes. The training and student support team often are from the same backgrounds as our students, and we frequently recruit from our alumni network when filling internal trainer roles.

The JETS program is fueled by more than 30 individual funding partners and funding streams have provided scholarships and grants to students to participate in boot camps at no cost to the student. Indiana Tech University provides up to 21 credits and an additional scholarship to students who choose to pursue a post-secondary degree after program graduation. Other funding partners include the WorkOne system across six regions in Indiana and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Community partners provide support and services to students on a referral basis (e.g., mental health, financial counseling, housing support, utility assistance, etc.) More than 75 technical recruiters from more than 20 employer partners actively source program graduates as guest speakers to the students. These connections open doors to these organizations, many of whom are among the largest IT corporations in the U.S.

The program has an 80 percent graduation rate. Overwhelmingly graduates earn valuable industry-recognized credentials, with 92 percent of graduates receiving at least one IT certification. Perhaps even more telling, employers who hire JETS alumni for the first time frequently contact the team asking if there are other available graduates for them to hire.  

See All Award Winners from the 2023 Mira Awards Gala.

TechPoint, the nonprofit, industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s digital innovation economy, honored the state’s top successes and innovations during the 24th annual Mira Awards gala with presenting sponsors UKG, Salesforce and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

A total of 18 award winners and honorees were chosen from the 141 outstanding people, companies and products that were selected as nominees for their achievements during the 2022 calendar year.

Fifty-two independent, volunteer judges spent more than 850 total hours evaluating applications, interviewing nominees, and selecting this year’s winners. Judges included an impressive roster of company founders, CEOs and presidents, CTOs, CIOs, engineers and other industry professionals.

TechPoint’s Mira Awards are named after the first of the brilliant variable stars to be discovered—the Mira Star. It is also the Latin root meaning “worthy of admiration, wonderful, marvelous.” The awards represent the best of tech in Indiana each year.