Written by Jennifer Carlson, Executive Director of the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Workforce Institute, the workforce development arm of the WTIA focused on addressing the tech industry’s workforce and diversity needs through a registered technology apprenticeship program called Apprenti.
Many businesses rely more and more on technology these days, which means they need a skilled workforce to ensure that their systems run smoothly, are compliant, and are protected from cyber-attacks.
According to an article in the March 2020 edition of Entrepreneur magazine, there just aren’t enough candidates to fill the open jobs in fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and software development. Currently, more than 500,000 of these “new collar” jobs are unfilled, and analysts predict the number will grow by 20 percent in three years.
Unfortunately, colleges and universities are not keeping up with industry talent demand. At the end of 2018, there were more than 2.97 million tech job postings in the U.S., yet there are only 80,000 four-year computer science degrees and 250,000 total engineering degrees available annually demonstrating a large disconnect between supply and demand.
Robust apprenticeship programs are a mainstay for some of the world’s most prosperous economies. People in those countries can access education and training that leads directly to the workplace, while the companies that sponsor them get top-quality workers with the precise skills they need.
In the United States, however, apprenticeships have historically been far less common outside of traditional trades of construction, plumbing, and electrical. Many businesses aren’t sure the benefits are worth the cost. However, astute employers know it’s critical to have access to a pipeline of workers with 21st-century skills.
The United States Department of Labor estimates that millions of vacancies exist in the American job market today and the main reason is a lack of skills among candidates. This presents a huge problem for American employers. They have jobs to fill and they have applicants for those jobs, but the skills of the applicants don’t match the requirements of the job. Nine out of ten U.S. employers surveyed said the skills shortage negatively impacted productivity, staff turnover, and employee satisfaction.
Apprenticeship programs—such as the Apprenti model in Southeast Michigan—combine workforce training and technical instruction with paid “on-the-job” training. This time-tested approach supplies employers with needed talent and workers with fulfilling careers with livable wages.
Microsoft, one of the largest and most respected tech companies in the world and one of Apprenti’s hiring partners, understands the value of hiring apprentices. Chuck Edward, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Microsoft explained why working with apprentices is good business sense saying, “Our partnership with the Workforce Institute enables us to influence the curriculum and training provided to apprentices and lets us do the on-the-job training.”
How the Apprenti Model Works
The Apprenti model streamlines the screening process that saves its hiring partners time and money and provides them with a powerful recruitment tool.
Apprenti screening begins with an online assessment that measures math, logic, critical thinking, and soft skills needed for success, to help identify candidates who have the aptitude for tech occupations. High scoring candidates are interviewed by Apprenti staff who select candidates to send to a hiring partner for an interview. Once a candidate has been placed, Apprenti continues to monitor their progress and the company’s satisfaction.
Training & Testing
Apprentices receive two to five months of accelerated occupational training before beginning on-the-job training with hiring partner companies. Companies then train apprentices on the specific skills they need to drive results for their organization.
Although the Apprenti program is open to anyone, staff actively recruits people of color, women and veterans to diversify the composition of the tech industry.
Employers pay a reduced, federally protected wage rate to registered apprentices, offsetting a company’s investment in on-the-job training. A one-time increase is provided at six months based on improved proficiency.
Apprenti provides training and certification for a variety of tech positions including, but not limited to:
- Software Developer
- Network Security Administrator
- Systems Administrator
- IT Business Analyst
For more information, contact John Sullivan, WIN’s Project Manager for Strategic Pathways.
MI Apprenticeship, managed by the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) and its partners, aims to make apprenticeship work for companies and job-seekers. Whether you’re an employer seeking to hire apprentices or a job seeker looking for long-term success, we’ll help you navigate the world of registered apprenticeships.