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Ex-USWeb exec conjures online talent pool

The former president of USWeb/CKS resurfaces as the CEO of iGeneration, a company that offers 18- to 24-year-olds tech education and adds graduates to a job bank tapped by large companies.

    While most recent college graduates face job searches and student loans, those eyeing positions in the lucrative technology field now have a shot at both a low-cost education and at being listed in a top-notch job bank.

    Toby Corey, former president of USWeb/CKS, now called MarchFirst, resurfaced today as the chief executive of iGeneration.

    Corey's start-up launched a service today that offers 18- to 24-year-olds a hands-on education for tech careers and adds its graduates to a job bank tapped by various large companies.

    The San Francisco-based start-up, which has 35 employees, is making huge bets on students who complete the iGeneration training and certification program by offering a loan reimbursement plan. Through its Tuition Rebate Program, iGeneration will help repay the loans of students who remain employed at one of the company's preferred partners for more than six months. The company will pay 30 percent of a person's loan after six months and 100 percent of their loan after one year of employment.

    "In this economy, one of the most difficult things clearly is getting people that are skilled in certain areas," said Brian Costello, an analyst at Boston-based Aberdeen Group. "The shortage (for qualified technology workers) is still there and growing rapidly...If iGeneration can execute on this, they are providing education to people to put into the work force very quickly."

    Corey left USWeb nearly one year ago to pursue other interests, including working with USWeb founder Joe Firmage at IntendChange, a consulting company for Internet start-ups that was partly financed by USWeb. Firmage also recently resurfaced with a science-focused media project code-named Project Voyager.

    Students must pass a certification test before being placed in iGeneration's enterprise partner database--where companies pay a subscription fee to search for qualified workers. The company today announced that Net consulting company MarchFirst would be one of its first subscribers.

    iGeneration offers training and certification in jobs such as creative producer, database developer, Internet application developer--Java and Microsoft--and security specialist. One career track can take six weeks to complete and could cost students roughly $5,000.

    Corey, who served as vice president of marketing for Novell before launching USWeb in 1995, said he wants to make iGeneration's certification program the industry standard and has no doubt that large corporations will want to use its database.

    "Virtually every large corporation is paying extraordinary fees to recruit qualified workers," Corey said. "The costs to train them are staggering. Our solution reduces that cost, in some cases, by a factor of two and a half times."

    He said that subscribers can design a "Wish List" detailing the type of person or skills they are looking for, and iGeneration will help the company find a match.

    iGeneration also offers its students career guidance, skills assessment, training, certification, job placement and financial aid programs.

    iGeneration students can take courses either via the Web or in a more traditional classroom setting through various partnerships with universities. The company has formed partnerships with DigitalThink, which offers courses on the Web, as well as with the University of Montana and Southern Methodist University.

    Right now, a certification from iGeneration may not mean much, Costello said. But down the road, the upstart has a chance to build on successful job placements and gain the trust and recurring business from large companies.

    "If I'm a recruiter for Lotus, I may start relying on the fact that I've gotten good people from iGeneration in the past, so the real issue here is execution," Costello added. "It's a huge battle...but if they can actually execute on providing these (qualified) people, it'll be worth it."

    iGeneration, which did not disclose subscription fees, said it will soon announce a number of enterprise partners. The company has 100 certification testing centers nationwide and across Europe.