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CT IT Training Center Established

Hartford-area insurers partner with civic association, vendor, to provide low-cost training resource.

Acting under the aegis of the MetroHartford Chamber of Commerce's Insurance and Financial Services Cluster (IFS), several Hartford-based insurance companies have partnered with Cisco (San Jose, CA) and the city's Capital Community College to found the Information Technology Business Center. The Center is intended to provide a cost-effective alternative for training IFS company employees in networking, telephony, security and other business technologies.

The initiative got rolling when Raul Matamoros, vice president, engineering, Travelers ($64.1 billion in assets), approached the college to explore less costly alternatives to sponsoring training classes on-site or sending IT professionals offsite to take them. "We initiated a conversation with the Capital Community College and then we arranged a meeting with Cisco to get them interested in the concept of developing courses locally for the business community," Matamoros says. "In the past we would have brought training in-house, but we usually only have two or three people needing the training, which makes it difficult to justify."

After Cisco agreed to donate some equipment and brought aboard its training partner, Skyline Computer (Campbell, CA), Matamoros brought the initiative to the IFS Cluster, an organization of 18 Hartford-based member companies founded last October by the MetroHartford Chamber of Commerce to foster the financial service industry's position within the region. With Travelers in the lead, the IFS Cluster companies are working to assess demand both within and outside the Cluster, according to Bob Flynn, executive director of the IFS Cluster. "We're now exploring working with other vendor companies for which there are similar issues," he relates. "For example, a lot of IFS companies' IT staffers need Microsoft certification, but need to go out of state, costs are high, and private companies don't offer classes as often as you like."

The initiative to found the Center has taken high priority within IFS, according to Flynn, because "the high-tech share of Connecticut employment is 13 percent, and the largest concentration is in the financial services sector, where technology jobs are 24 percent of the total."

Another Cluster company, CIGNA (headquartered in Philadelphia, $91.6 billion in consolidated assets), is spearheading an effort to design a Java/WebSphere curriculum, according to Mitch Stein, who directs CIGNA's IT organization's human resource and technology training. "We're committed to working with our Cluster partners to identify mutual learning priorities and solutions," he says. "By sharing the research, design and program implementation effort, as well as the delivery cost, we all benefit."

Critical Mass

The Information Technology Business Center, according to Stein, "presents a phenomenal opportunity to leverage the experience of the IFS Cluster membership and the expertise of Capital Community College to cooperatively address targeted high-priority IT training requirements. Jointly we enjoy a critical mass that will allow us cost-effective and timely training that we wouldn't have individually."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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