Co-working space partners with IT firm


CoLearning is a program of professional development courses at The Factory co-working space in downtown Grand Rapids. Photo via

An IT firm is providing job placement and tuition reimbursement for people working to improve their technology skills at a co-working space.

The Factory in downtown Grand Rapids is partnering with TEKsystems, an information technology staffing and services provider, to help people enrolled in coLearning professional development courses at The Factory.

Job placement support

When enrolling in a coLearning course, students can apply for tuition reimbursement for roughly $800 from TEKsystems upon completing the course and securing employment with one of its clients.

The Factory will connect the student with a partner from the Maryland-based IT company to work on developing a customized career plan, review interview techniques and walk-through job opportunities.

“It is as simple as allowing people to enroll, learn and get hired,” said Aaron Schaap, founder of The Factory and the coLearning program. “The $800 isn’t a lot of money in the grand scheme for the courses we are providing, but it is a lot of money to an individual. I’m excited we can open this up to a lot more people who have wanted to take a course.”


Since the launch of the coLearning program in 2013, Schaap said TEKsystems has been involved by encouraging candidates to enroll in the courses when identifying a need for additional skills.

The company also supported early interviewing tips and networking help when The Factory worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to assist the unemployed and under employed in the IT industry.

“Over the years, they never really asked for anything, always just been there to help out,” Schaap said. “This past year, we started talking a little more.”

Jeff Ekdom, applications account manager at TEKsystems, said the company is very excited to announce its partnership with coLearning.

“We’ve been involved since the early stages of the coLearning program and are looking forward to building this partnership,” Ekdom said. “CoLearning has produced great talent over the years, and we’re excited to help make their program more accessible to others that need it.”


The coLearning program offers a number of courses for people looking to improve their understanding and skills in technology, design and entrepreneurship.

The program provides courses such as Design Thinking, User Experience Design, Content Strategy, Modern Web Development and Software Development.

Each course has a capacity for up to 20 people.

There are two upcoming coLearning courses scheduled to begin in September, according to Schaap.

“In West Michigan, a lot of companies that are looking to hire designers and developers just can’t hire enough of them,” Schaap said. “It is really slowing companies down right now quite a bit.”

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