MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – At a time when we’re hearing about corporate layoffs, there’s one area of employment that can’t hire workers fast enough.

There are more jobs in information technology than qualified workers, and there’s a program in the Twin Cities trying to change that.

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A program called “Creating IT Futures” is filling a need and changing lives.

Thirty-seven-year-old Gregery Ball is sitting in a classroom with 20 other students.

“It’s just amazing what they’re doing for people like me and other people who are less fortunate,” he said.

After a decade working various jobs in the health field, he was looking for a new opportunity.

With a wife and two kids, going to college didn’t make financial sense.

Then he found “IT Ready” — an eight-week training program that’s totally free.

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“They’re taking their time to train us,” Ball said, “you know, people who initially never had the opportunity to get into the IT field.”

“IT Ready” is paid for by an information technology trade group called CompTIA. It’s a way to diversify and widen the IT employee pool.

“We are looking for people who have always been hobbyists in IT, or someone who’d like to make a career change,” Kathy Brennan, an IT Ready manager, said. “People who are very successful have a customer service background, because that’s what IT is — it’s helping people.”

The training is intense, followed by an internship and hopefully employment.

Julian Smith is just who they’re looking for. He worked at Dunn Brothers coffee for years and helped family and friends with their computers.

“I worked full time at these retail places, so I’m no stranger to a busy schedule,” he said. “These people are doing near-miracle work. This is what starts careers, and I’m absolutely thankful to be here at this moment.”

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IT Ready will start its next eight-week program in May at a new location in Edina. There are limited spots available.