Camp Dawson, IBM collaborate on training initiative

Camp Dawson and IBM teamed up for a public/private collaboration to certify veterans in the use of software widely used in law enforcement, cyber-security and national security.

“What we are trying to do in the National Guard is to be part of the long-term solution for diversifying the economy in West Virginia and getting into the technology age,” West Virginia Adjutant Major General James Hoyer said. “There are some unique opportunities the governor believes the National Guard can bring to national and homeland security.”

The program provides returning service members with free, intensive training for a week, as well as certification and employment assistance. The program is designed to build in-demand technology skills to prepare veterans for “new collar” careers.

“IBM recognizes the importance of public/private collaboration in shaping fast paths for service members to gain skills necessary for the ‘new collar’ jobs of tomorrow,” IBM Senior State Executive for West Virginia Timi Handra said. “As a West Virginia employer, we are proud to partner with the National Guard to provide training opportunities for our service members.”

Former FBI Assistant Director Stephen Morris said the program’s analytic-type training provides the veterans with options.

“Whether they work in an organization like IBM or a private IT industry, it opens up the doors and opportunities,” Morris said. “It also unlocks the possibility on the federal side with agencies like the FBI and other investigative agencies that use analytics in their work.

“This is a great fit for these veterans because they come from a mission-focused field,” he added. “This would be an easy transition for the veterans.”

Hoyer said the veterans in the first class at Camp Dawson will be able to take the knowledge back and use it in their day-to-day jobs in the National Guard.

“Some of these young people will, hopefully, be hearing from IBM in the next few days saying they passed this course and received a security clearance and offering them a job,” Hoyer said. “For some, it might be their first career; for some, the second.

“Our objective is to keep these people here in West Virginia and working in our state, even after they retire from the Guard,” he added. “People who use this program may be the person that stops an attack from happening in the United States.”

Hoyer said the competition among sites nationwide to provide the program was intense.

“I think we pitched that we had unique things to offer,” Hoyer said. “We want to keep the program at 15 to 20 veterans, and we have another group of veterans who we are looking at for the second class.”

Hoyer said the program has two purposes. One is to be a tool that makes the National Guard a better organization in both its state mission and its emergency mission.

“Number two, we are looking to be a part of the catalyst to energize a new generation of people to get into the technology world in West Virginia,” he said. “We are building that next generation of talent in the National Guard.”

Morris said the program introduced at Camp Dawson this week was the first class in the analytic area.

“This is groundbreaking in many ways,” he said. “It is also opening a door into what IBM wants to do corporately with the ‘new collar’ jobs.

“I think this is an awesome opportunity for West Virginia.”

Hoyer agreed with Morris about the prospects the IBM technology training program can open for West Virginia veterans and the entire state.

“We are as talented as any people in this world if we just had the confidence to branch out and diversify,” Hoyer said.

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