Sunday, February 19, 2012

Education and Training is the Pathway to Employment

There is a connection between learning, growth and sustainable employment, according to Jerry Masin, president of SetFocus, an informational technology training school headquartered in Parsippany. Unfortunately, too many people do not see that connection. Unemployment among college graduates is 7.5 percent, higher in nontechnical fields such as liberal arts (9.4 percent). Yet unemployment in information technology consistently runs less than half the national average. Meanwhile, 22 percent of U.S. businesses claim they cannot find qualified candidates while 40 percent rate new hires as "deficient." Yet the most popular college majors include social sciences, visual arts, English and communications.

Clearly, too many people do not see the connection between learning, growth and sustainable employment. Fortunately for the students of SetFocus and the employers hiring them, Masin and his faculty do. SetFocus trains and places in the workplace Microsoft experts – from IT professionals whose skills have lagged or those recently laid off to individuals seeking retraining to start a new career. The school works closely with employers to regularly hone its curriculum to ensure students are properly trained in required skills and hiring partners’ needs are properly filled. In other words, SetFocus makes a connection between education, growth and sustainable employment. As a result, the school enjoys significant placement success for its students.
Masin came to SetFocus in 2011. While the school has long been respected in the technical training arena Masin committed to taking the organization to its next level.

With more than 30 years experience in building global organizations, he determined to make SetFocus a key player in workforce development and reinvestment throughout New Jersey. "Edison said, ‘Vision without execution is hallucination,’" Masin said. "Everybody deserves a good education and good job. Without execution, that vision falls into hallucination." For SetFocus, execution includes working closely with the state’s workforce investment boards as well as the U.S. Department of Military Affairs. Already certified as an eligible training provider by New Jersey, the school will become GI Bill-certified shortly. "Education and training is only relevant if it leads to a job," Masin said. "The idea of hitting the job running has never been more relevant than now. Companies don’t have two or three years to get employees trained. They need to be productive now. "We are offering to the workforce investment boards around the state the ability to fast-track training opportunities. When you fast-track training and education you fast track jobs."

Masin is able to turn SetFocus into a workforce development leader because the school is so ideally suited to train and quickly place employees. The school offers students a full-time program of 40 hours per week for 13 weeks or a part-time option of 15 hours per week for 30 weeks and operates a career services and placement department. In addition to being designed with direct input from hiring partners, the curriculum is taught by an unparalleled faculty, according to Masin. "The secret sauce for a training organization is its trainers," he said. "We have been very fortunate to attract rock star trainers, acknowledged subject matter experts. We look for trainers who are recognized as top-shelf experts within the Microsoft community."
SetFocus also offers The GRID®, virtual training that allows instructors and students to interact in a classroom environment from any location. Through audio and video, each student has a "front row" seat in full view of the instructor and fellow students, with face-to-face communication. All of which enables SetFocus to make the connection between education, growth and sustainable employment. "When I talk with an unemployed worker or someone considering a career change, I ask, ‘Where do you want to go?’" Masin said. "But first I say, ‘Let’s talk about where the jobs are.’ I’m not relevant if I can’t help them find a job."

To learn more about SetFocus call 973.889.0211 or visit

From an article appearing in the March 2012 issue of The Business Edge, a publication of The Morris County Chamber of Commerce. With compliments to editor, Chris Reardon.