Posted: 8:34 PM, Apr 17, 2019 Updated: 8:42 AM, Apr 18, 2019 | By: Courtney Mims

BALTIMORE, MD (WMAR) — In today’s world employers in the technology field are often looking for young, gifted, talented workers. Many of Baltimore’s youth aren’t exposed to the opportunities that could propel them into life changing careers. Year Up is a work force training program that is aiming to change that narrative.

Roland Selby is the Executive Director of Year Up and believes the program can create financial stability and change communities.

“What Year Up does is it connects young adults that we call opportunity youth that are interested in careers and are probably disconnected from the job market we’re opening the doors and preparing the young adults for roles in the IT field, cyber security and general business,” said Selby.

The program consist of two phases, six months of classes at Baltimore’s community colleges followed by six months at an internship where students get to put their skills to use. Students work on a professional contract that monitors there punctuality, professional dress, conduct and completion of assignments – 88 of the students are hired in Year Up related jobs after completing the program.

“Year Up works with young adults to prepare them for entry level positions at company’s like Johns Hopkins, BGE, Carefirst just to name a few,” said Selby. “They’ll spend six months where they’re learning the hard skills as well as the soft skills. Because we know that employees will hire for skills but will fire for behavior.”

Zerkxes Rodriguez and David Cuthrell are Year Up students in the first phase of the program. They are both excited about their futures after completing the program.

“I like the fact that it drives me to be a better person than who I was,” said Rodriguez. “And it also paves the pathway for an internship in cyber security for my career goal of being a CEH or certified ethical hacker.”

“I really like that its a large network of people and everybody here has a centralized goal of trying to better themselves, so I like that it’s a very supportive environment. When I finish the program, I would very much like to use the certifications and experience I gained here to go into international business. I actually have some business ideas of my own that I would really like to implement,” said Cuthrell.

Ja’Meia Jackson joined Year Up in 2015. Before Year Up she was working five jobs and living paycheck to paycheck, now she just has one job with great pay and benefits.

“I love working for Care First. I never thought that I would be working in a big company,”Jackson said. “I find myself moving up as I’ve been here at Care First. Starting out as in intern I was nervous I was scared. I didn’t think I would make it to the end. I thought of myself as a failure and that I wouldn’t make it in life and with the supervisors and management team they were always there and encouraging.”


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