Autodesk, Partners Offering Assistance To Unemployed Designers

Under the Autodesk Assistance Program, which the San Rafael, Calif., company launched Monday, designers, engineers and architects who find themselves out of work because of the recession can tap into Autodesk's online training for free to maintain and upgrade their skills in using Autodesk applications, said Steve Blum, senior vice president of Americas sales.

"The goal is to help them make themselves more marketable, to help them get jobs during this downturn or get jobs more quickly when the economy turns around," Blum said.

The program also offers a free 13-month software student license for the vendor's AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit Architecture, Autodesk Inventor Professional and/or AutoCAD Civil 3D software. That will allow unemployed workers to stay current with the latest releases of the products and help them learn new skills, Blum said.

Autodesk is asking its service partners that provide training for Autodesk software to offer classroom training for free or at significantly reduced costs when the classes have unfilled seats, Blum said. Autodesk also is providing discounted rates for certification preparation and exams for both associate and professional levels.

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Autodesk also is working with a number of industry and professional organizations to assist out-of-work engineers and architects. In one example, Autodesk is working with the Boston Society of Architects to provide free seminars on "building information modeling" for unemployed design professionals. The company said Autodesk resellers and CIOs from Boston-area companies are pitching in to teach the seminars.

Autodesk is encouraging engineering and architectural companies to make the Autodesk Assistance Program part of their outplacement programs, Blum said. The main goal is to assist professionals who are already Autodesk users, but he said unemployed professionals that want to learn about Autodesk can participate. Blum said Autodesk will do spot checks to make sure people who are gainfully employed aren't trying to take advantage of the program.

People who want to participate in the program, which is expected to run through at least the end of this year, can register at The program covers North America and Autodesk is considering ways to expand it into other areas.

"We really believe this is the right thing to do," Blum said. "We know how challenging things are out there."