News Release

Published on Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Computer professionals have moved out of the company basement mainframe rooms and are shedding the stereotypical “introvert” qualities. Gone are the days of solving computer problems void of human contact. The explosion of computer use has created a high demand for support specialists who provide advice directly to end users. And, to do that successfully, they need a balance of technical and people skills.

This new generation of computer experts is most commonly known as Computer Support Specialists, Technical Support Specialists, or Help Desk Technicians. And, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, these positions are projected to be among the fastest growing occupations through 2012.

The challenge comes in finding qualified people to fill the positions. According to Marty Frank, American Standard Support Center Manager in La Crosse, many applicants come in with Information Technology (IT) experience, but very few are acclimated to a help desk environment.

To help potential job seekers prepare for these hybrid careers, Western Wisconsin Technical College has developed the IT-User Support and Training program. It is the first technology program of its kind in Wisconsin to be offered in both a traditional and an accelerated format. This means that students can earn their degree in two years either through attending class on a traditional daytime schedule or by attending class one evening per week.

“Computer and technology skills, along with soft skills, such as excellent communications skills and rapport with others, are skills that all organizations need their employees to possess,” said Jacie Faas, a graduate from the UST program who currently works for the School District of La Crosse. “The UST program really improved my computer skills. And, I am able to pass my knowledge on to other employees in my building by offering suggestions and support to improve their job performances.”

“I think that students who get a degree in UST are really preparing themselves for a well-rounded knowledge base of the IT world,” added Frank. “Often times, it springboards people into more training and specialization in all the other avenues of IT.”

To provide more information on IT careers, including User Support and Training, Programmer Analyst, and Network Specialist, WWTC will hold a free information session on Wednesday, Aug. 17, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. It will be held in Room 209 of the Business Education Building, 405 8th St. N., La Crosse.

For information on this and other WWTC programs and services, call 608.785.9200 or visit the WWTC Web site at wwtc.edu.