NSITE, NIB’s a talent management enterprise, supports employers and job seekers who are blind, visually impaired, and/or veterans throughout the career life cycle. Part 1 of this blog series looked at NSITE’s genesis and what it offers both job seekers and employers. This concluding post of the series provides an overview of the variety of training opportunities available through NSITE.
For job seekers, NSITE offers a continuum of employment services, from identifying open positions to ensuring they have the skills for success, to assisting not just with placement but also with support for accessibility needs once they are on the job.
The enterprise takes NIB’s lifelong mission to create meaningful employment for people who are blind or visually impaired to the next level.
NSITE Training and Development
NSITE is now delivering high-quality career training and development programs built and refined by NIB over years to a wider audience. All of NIB’s established training and development programs, many of which were delivered in-person only, are being re-launched for virtual delivery and will be available through NSITE’s training and development portal.
People who are blind, visually impaired, and/or veterans can develop advanced computer skills through the Professional Mastery of Office Technology for Employment (ProMOTE) program, learn about contract administration through the Contract Management Support (CMS) training program, and take a variety of classes through the Business Leaders Program.
In partnership with Orion Global Talent, in May of this year NSITE graduated 11 students in the Sourcing Specialist Certificate program, which provides the education and training necessary to enter a human resource career in candidate sourcing. A part of the employment recruiting process, sourcing professionals identify passive candidates (people who are not actively seeking a new job) and provide that information to recruiters, who contact the candidates about openings within their organizations.
Training for Tech Careers
As demand for employees in the information technology field continues to grow, NSITE is working with some well-known companies to help people who are blind, visually impaired, and/or veterans gain a foothold in the industry. Through a partnership with Google, NSITE is helping job seekers earn their choice of a Google IT Support Professional certificate; a Google IT Automation with Python certificate; or a Google IT Data Analytics, Project Management, and UX Design certificate.
Job seekers interested in careers in the cybersecurity industry can earn a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential through NSITE’s CISCO Networking Academy. The intensive, 40-week, instructor-led program is the first Cisco training program in the U.S. specifically adapted to the learning styles of people who are blind or visually impaired. Participants not only receive instruction in how to install, configure, and troubleshoot networks using Cisco software, but also learn soft skills like communication and leadership.
In March 2021, NSITE received a grant of more than $95,000 from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation to fund the academy. In another example of NSITE’s success in building partnerships, NSITE Executive Director Jonathan Lucus notes that most Cisco Networking Academy participants have come from referrals by vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies, which cover the costs of the program for their clients.
NSITE Learning and Leadership Program Director Marianne Haegeli says the current offerings are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to robust training and development opportunities to prepare job seekers to enter growing career fields. NSITE is looking forward to launching a virtual training university, NSITE U, in the coming months.
NSITE U will be home to the current suite of training and development programs; some free foundational courses; some fee-based, on-demand courses; and more extensive courses like the Cisco Networking Academy and Sourcing Specialist Certificate program. While many courses will be self-paced, NSITE U aims to offer cohort components where learners communicate with one another. Clear start and end dates will encourage participants to complete programs in a timely manner.
Learners completing select NSITE U coursework and programs will earn a digital credentialing badge that can be added to their online profiles and shared with potential employers. Employers will be able to click on the credential and view detailed information about the coursework and training completed to earn it.
Some of the training programs will feature hands-on workplace learning. A recent example is the Sourcing Specialist Certificate program, where graduates completed coursework independently over 12 weeks and met virtually with other participants each week. After completing the coursework, they applied their learning in a part-time, six-week work experience.
“We’ve partnered with Bristol Myers Squibb for the work experience portion of the program, and it’s been a wonderful experience,” says Haegeli. “Students do sourcing work independently from home, but meet once a week with their Bristol Myers Squibb representative. At the end of the work experience, they get to attend an event where some of the sourced candidates they identified are hired.”
NSITE U is also launching a sales training program that will consist of eight modules, and exploring the feasibility of a supply chain certificate program. The ultimate goal, says Haegeli, is to offer people who are blind or visually impaired a variety of career-level learning tracks. “We want to be a partner throughout their career progression,” she says.
Within a year, NSITE U wants to offer a full arc of career learning and development opportunities, with courses that meet the needs of participants wherever they are in their career — from basic training courses to extensive development programs that open up pathways to career advancement.
Haegeli admits it’s an ambitious goal, but says it’s one the NSITE team is determined to accomplish. “We have the best team ever here at NSITE, and incredible support from NIB.”
Lucus agrees. “We’ve just launched year two of this venture, and it’s amazing to see how much we’ve accomplished in such a short time. I’ve heard from so many people who are blind or visually impaired who say they’ve been waiting for this. We could not have done it without NIB’s unflagging support.”
Lucus says the NSITE team has no plans to slow down. “We want to be everywhere. We want to continue to grow, add to our talent pool, increase the number of participating employers, and expand our education and development opportunities so we can offer more pathways to fulfilling careers,” he says. “This is just the beginning.”