Friday, December 7, 2001

Capitol Computers expands training facility

Published in Interface Tech News

AUGUSTA, Maine ‹ Responding to rapid growth in demand for its services and projected expansion in the future, Capitol Computers is expanding its training space from 30 to 50 workstations and hiring two additional instructors.

The company will continue to provide sales, maintenance, and technical support to businesses and educational institutions, but sees the most growth potential in the area of computer-based training, according to vice president and general manager Paul DeSchamp.

DeSchamp said the company's revenue increased 18 percent from 2000 to 2001, and projected it will increase a further 40 percent by 2002. Those figures are driven by a 200 percent increase in offerings of career-based, self-paced training classes from 2000 to 2001. DeSchamp expects the class offerings will double again in the next year.

Capitol's biggest client is the state of Maine, to which it offers employee training and serves the state's career counseling program, retraining workers laid off from other industries. Among the services Capitol offers are certification programs for computer technicians and network engineers.

The new space, with 20 additional desktop machines, all with high-speed Internet connections and access to networked printers and file servers, is scheduled to open Dec. 1. DeSchamp added that there is more room for expansion, should it be needed.

He admits that mill closings and other layoffs around Maine have boosted his business, but stressed that, while he is happy to help people learn new skills, "we don't want to see more closings."

Katherine Jones of the Boston-based Aberdeen Group's education and e-learning research section said that, while computer-based training is nothing new, computers are being used more and more for educational purposes.

In the current economic slowdown, Jones said, people need to retrain or improve their skill sets to get and keep jobs ‹ that means more business for training centers. Added to that can be state or even company programs offering financial incentives to laid-off workers learning new skills.

According to Jones, one area of significant promise is certification for industrial workers. There are programs which train people to handle hazardous material, operate heavy equipment, or perform other tasks, offering certifications at the end of the process.

"You need about five of them to run a backhoe," Jones said. And the certifications expire, bringing people back every year or two to keep current. "Most of the stuff is learnable online and testable online," she said. "That's a perfect thing for training companies."