The University of Texas at Austin Launches E-Learning and Training Labs
ELT Labs, Co-directed by Dr. George Kozmetsky & Dr. Alex Cavalli, Launches Web-Based Job Training Program – EnterTech
AUSTIN, Texas – The IC2 Institute at the University of Texas at Austin is expanding its international, multi-disciplinary “think-and-do” tank to include E-Learning & Training Labs. ELT Labs is a “collaboratory” (laboratory without walls) that brings together transdisciplinary teams from academia, business and all levels of government to research and develop leading-edge workforce development, training and learning programs.
The first initiative to come from ELT Labs is the Web-based training program, EnterTech, designed to primarily help at-risk youth and the working poor enter and succeed in today’s competitive workforce.
“With the creation of ELT Labs, IC2 is shifting its focus to the new economy, which is based on the growth of knowledge within individuals,” said Dr. Robert Ronstadt, director of the institute. “The global marketplace is demanding highly trained and knowledgeable workers who are adaptable to the rapidly changing technological, economic, political and cultural landscape, The ELT Labs collaboratory will focus on identifying leading edge economic issues, quickly finding solutions and creating self-sustaining business models that other research and development institutes can utilize.”
“Breakthroughs in technology are what generate the prosperity and higher-paying jobs of the future,” said Dr. George Kozmetsky, principal investigator of ELT Labs and founder of the institute. “ELT Labs’ main goal will be to empower local communities to shape their own futures through dynamic civic entrepreneurships that form 21st century partnerships for economic development.”
The EnterTech Program
The EnterTech Program is designed to help improve the economic environment by creating a larger pool of skilled applicants for employers and by increasing career opportunities for those who are displaced or disadvantaged.
In June 1998, Dr. Kozmetsky and his team of e-Learning instructional technologists received a three-year, $2.1 million grant from the Office of the Governor of the State of Texas to develop the EnterTech Program, with grant oversight by the Texas Workforce Commission. EnterTech assembled a transdisciplinary coalition of more than 80 members from academia, business and government to ensure that EnterTech graduates receive the basic job skills and personal growth and development skills that employers demand. Coalition members include 3M, Dell, IBM, Samsung and Texas Instruments.
The 45-hour EnterTech Program is an instructor-led, Web-based workforce training program that simulates “on-the-job” experiences. The program provides employability skills to transition-ready welfare and public assistance recipients, teen parents, at-risk youth, juvenile and adult offenders, dislocated workers, incumbent workers, and unemployed or underemployed workers. Classes are offered in computer labs at community colleges, community-based organizations, high schools and workforce centers.
“Our nation’s future depends on our ability to continue to sustain and grow our economy. A critical component of this is a motivated and skilled workforce,” said Dr. Alex Cavalli, Collaboratory Research Scientist at ELT Labs. “The EnterTech Program helps employers by teaching employability skills such as responsibility, dependability, positive work attitudes, teamwork and communications skills that result in higher productivity and retention rates. The program uses blended-learning techniques that result in higher outcomes, and focuses on helping the 31 million disadvantaged individuals that live below poverty-levels in the U.S.”
EnterTech is targeted at school districts that integrate the curriculum into programs such as School to Career, Tech Prep, Community in Technology and Community in Schools. State workforce commissions use the program as a welfare-to-work training initiative. Community-based organizations offer EnterTech within their work readiness programs and judges sentence adult and juvenile offenders to the program to impart positive work ethics.
The Success of EnterTech
Recent evaluation of EnterTech graduates reports 67 percent gained employment or enrolled in continuing education, and 15 percent received raises or changed jobs and received higher salaries. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients, who were tracked 90 days following their completion of the EnterTech Program, also had successful and sustained outcomes: 33 percent were taken off welfare, resulting in a per person annual savings to the federal government of $3,848. Employers report that EnterTech graduates are easier to train, more productive and are more likely to stay on the job longer than non-EnterTech graduates.
“The EnterTech Program is the most unique and engaging curriculum for teaching work maturity and occupational skills I have discovered in my 20 years of working in the workforce development arena,” said David Lozano, workforce development director, Near Northside Partners Council, Ft. Worth, Texas. “Through its interactive environment, EnterTech teaches work maturity and occupational skills in a manner that engages the student, thus making these topics relevant and applicable to their lives. Since we first began using the EnterTech program almost two years ago, it has become an integral component in all my workforce programs – including programs serving limited English speakers, at-risk youth and job seekers with limited work experience.”
The EnterTech Program, which has been awarded the eTexas Commission’s “Best Practice Award” and “Education That Works” endorsement, is operating in 10 Texas cities. ELT Labs will further leverage its collaboratory resources to commercialize the EnterTech Program within other countries. EnterTech Spanish is now in production.
For additional information about ELT Labs, please visit www.eltlabs.org.
For additional information about the EnterTech Project, please visit www.entertech.org.
For additional information about IC2, please visit www.ic2.org.