Design programs to complement computer skills.
Certification is most useful when the skills are relevant in the local labor-market and certificates are issued by an organization trusted by employers. For successful job outcomes, technology centers must cultivate employer relationships. Further, participants’ overall experience with centers was more positive when services went beyond ICT training, such as help with resume writing, job placement, and counseling.
Place representatives from target populations in leadership positions.
Among both populations, the presence of program managers “they could identify with” enhanced participation. At-risk youth expressed encouragement when peers worked at the technology center — it showed the potential for finding work after training. Likewise, people with disabilities related better to trainers with disabilities. In a labor market where few people with disabilities have white-collar jobs, their presence as project administrators was important and symbolic — providing a model and increasing public visibility.
Provide long-term program support.
Start-up funding for technology training does not guarantee self-sufficiency. Longterm support is essential, especially when sustainable revenue is not feasible because target clients cannot afford training. Support for community technology centers that provide services for people with disabilities can be seen as part of a larger effort to improve access to socio-economic rights. State funding may play a critical role.
Invest in accessibility research and awareness.
We often found assistive technologies to be unreliable and unavailable. Having observed several innovative local solutions, we recommend funding small initiatives that promote local development of assistive technologies.Workplace access and regulatory compliance also needs to be improved. More coordination and collaboration among legislators and agencies already working in this space would also represents an important step.