Founded in 1997 in Washington, D.C., Byte Back provides free, inclusive tech training that leads to living-wage careers and allows everyone to become part of the growing digital economy. Byte Back programs range from basic technology literacy to certification programs in IT, Microsoft Office, and other technologies. Recently, UiPath carried out a robotic process automation (RPA) training pilot program with the organization, providing free access to the UiPath Platform, training support, and curricula.
We spoke with Yvette Scorse, Byte Back’s Communications Director, to explore how the lessons learned from that pilot can inform governmental policy and technology training design.
Why did you choose to launch a pilot focused on RPA?
“Byte Back is always looking for opportunities that aren’t available through traditional educational paths—training that is accessible and leads to great, living-wage careers without the demands and cost of a four-year college degree.
When we came across UiPath and learned more about RPA, we thought it would be a great pilot to run with students. We thought it would be something that was accessible to them, something that could give them a step into the most cutting-edge technology careers and the future of work. It was accessible for our adult learners, many of whom don’t have college degrees and/or can’t invest time and money in extensive tech training programs.
What excited us about the UiPath RPA training program is that we were able to instruct our students and have them take a certification test and do that at a lower cost, thanks to the materials and teaching support UiPath provided. Other certification programs cost us up to $10,000 per student, including the cost of official training materials, instructors, and certification exam vouchers.
I think that what really stood out to us about RPA was the immediate response from companies that hire RPA developers. There just seems to be a plethora of jobs out there. And well-paying jobs at entry level, also with the ability to move up and really make an astounding salary, which is ideal for our students.”
What are some of the lessons learned from the RPA pilot to inform how governments, work readiness organizations, and businesses can help move people into 21st century jobs?
Provide a foundation of basic technological literacy.
“In general, we need to ensure that people have access to foundational technology skills and then a pathway up to more advanced technology training. Adult learners need to know the basics – how to turn on a computer, how to fill out an online form, how to upload their resumes – and move up from there. A lot of workforce readiness programs in the Washington, D.C. area are realizing that there needs to be this foundation. And Byte Back is one of the few that offers this complete pathway of training."
Look beyond just training on the technology.
“I think the RPA training was a little more challenging for the participants than we had anticipated—not because the technology was difficult, but because some students didn’t have the business background they needed in order to understand the business processes they were automating. Ensuring that students have a business background or have additional training in business processes is essential to success."
Provide holistic support to ensure success.
“There are other issues in ensuring people successfully complete tech training programs. All of our services are free, but there are other barriers that may keep students from earning certifications, including not having a device or internet at home. Since the pandemic, Byte Back has worked with students to equip them at home, because about one-third of students don’t have a home computer or broadband access. There are also other barriers, including access to childcare and health issues.
At Byte Back, we have a case manager to help people with these issues. We also have a career services team that helps them acquire soft skills and successfully apply and interview for jobs. You need these wraparound services to help people succeed. So, when developing workforce readiness and tech literacy programs and determining funding needs, governments should not only consider funding for the courses themselves, but also for other support services that will equip students to participate fully and successfully move into living-wage careers in RPA and other fields."
Inspired by the power of upskilling? Find out how to create a training program in your own organization by reading How to Create an RPA Training Strategy to Upskill Your Workforce.
If you're part of a nonprofit training organization or higher education institution and interested in teaching RPA, join the UiPath Academic Alliance! As part of the Academic Alliance, you'll receive free software, specially developed curricula, and more.
You don't have to wait until your organization has created an automation training program to advance your career with RPA. Check out the free UiPath Academy courses available to the public.
Or, do you want to learn more about how insights like those in this article can help inform government policies? Be sure to claim your copy of our recent white paper, Renewal, Resilience, and Readiness: Unleashing the Power of RPA Across the U.S. Economy.
Public Affairs Manager, UiPath