The 75 graduates onstage at Lansing Community College Friday weren't finishing up with high school or college -- but they're graduating with skills organizers say can be just as important in the modern job market.
"They're paramount...if someone does not have tech skills they're lost in the digital age. If you don't have a computer with internet access, you're behind the ball already," Closing The Digital Gap Executive Director Marcus Jefferson said.
The program is designed to bring low-income people in lansing up to speed with the often expensive world of computers -- a world that's increasingly a part of the workplace.
"We give all of our participants a free computer and internet service free for one year," Jefferson said.
Robert Clement is one of the 75 people graduating from the program -- he says he used the skills he learned from the program to land a job working the computer catalogues for a local bookstore.
"I can actually help find books for them that are either on the shelf, or I look for them on the computer. You do need a little computer knowledge to know how to do that," Clement said.
And for Clement, the program wasn't just about the basics needed to get by in an everyday job -- he's getting in to computer programming.
"it really does stretch your knowledge when it comes to computers and that can take you very very far in a world that's full of technology that's changing each and every year," Clement said.
Not all the graduates are as young as Clement. Some say they came to the program after losing what they thought was a stable job only to find computer skills a necessary part of most any new career.
This is the fifth year that Jefferson and his group have worked to connect people--young and old--with computer skills and hopefully, jobs. Leaders say they hope for many anniversaries to come.
-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.