Diversifying the Technology Landscape

Diversifying the Technology Landscape

Getting the word out is super important to us,” says Kevin Gadd, Apprenti’s Ohio Program Manager. Apprenti is an apprenticeship program for technology workers, founded in Seattle but now operating in more than 14 states. Apprenticeship opportunities are available in 50 states.

Apprenti’s mission is to provide a proven, reliable pipeline for underrepresented groups such as minorities, women and veterans to gain training, certification and placement within the talent-hungry tech industry. The company, which operates the nation’s first registered tech apprenticeship program, does this by recruiting, screening, training and placing more diverse groups of talent without direct experience into tech roles at top companies. Unlike traditional job-training options, apprentices receive three to five months of certified technical training before completing one year of paid, mentored, on-the-job training at one of the program’s hiring partners.

Gadd says that Apprenti encourages employers to “take a chance” on new talent, noting that companies traditionally look to hire candidates with three years of experience. Often, however, new and diverse talent cannot point to a track record of experience. “We need more companies to say, ‘I’ll try that,’” he says. According to Gadd, many jobs in tech do not require a 4-year college degree, and instead can be filled by highly motivated, competent people hungry to prove themselves capable of the work. Apprenticeship is a secondary pipeline development process that attracts a wider age and experience population, accelerates training, and helps companies build the talent they need within months, not years.

In Ohio, Apprenti helps companies like JP Morgan Chase, Huntington Bank, Kroger and Great American Insurance fill their hiring needs. Apprenti’s hiring process begins with employers. When an employer approaches Apprenti with positions in technology, Apprenti screens candidates using the organization’s proprietary online assessment, which looks at candidates’ math, logic and critical thinking as well as soft skills to determine whether or not they are candidates for apprenticeship. Those candidates that make it through the assessment process then move on to interviews with employers to determine whether or not they will progress into the training program. If a candidate is approved, Apprenti will then cover the cost of training and prepare them for the position. Individuals who go through the Apprenti training process receive a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor. This certificate can be taken from one state and applied in another.

“Never stop learning,” Gadd advises individuals entering the technology work force. Taking classes and learning new skills is important because, “so much changes in IT,” he says. For those trying to find a position in the industry, he suggests coding classes, learning HTML and acquiring new skills. The result could be a recognition that, “I have an aptitude for this.”

Apprenti staffs positions in software development, cyber security, cloud services and more. Employers are often technology companies. However, many companies that are not in technology are high tech and have a need for skilled technology workers. Hence, Apprenti can find technology talent in many areas. “If a company says, ‘We need a help desk person,’ we will go out and find someone suitable for the job,” Gadd says.

Apprenti is a program of the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Workforce Institute and is the the first nationally registered technology apprenticeship program. Its leaders realized that employees might not need a four-year degree in order to be competent and have the skills necessary to work in technology. Apprenti also recognized the effectiveness of apprenticeship in other trades, such as construction and maintenance. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor, a series of rules and regulations were established to accredit Apprenti’s programs.

“This is very new,” Gadd says about the work Apprenti does. He says that a lack of awareness is a slight challenge, but he also points to the fact that registered apprenticeship has a history of success. Gadd says that the Ohio tech community is well connected, offering events and grassroots efforts, but “the community realizes that it is not big enough.” 

Apprenti’s mission is clear, Gadd concludes. “We’re changing people’s lives.” 

For more information on Apprenti, Central Ohio, visit apprenticareers.org/locations/central-ohio/.

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