As the search for a qualified workforce continues across the region and indeed the country, virtually no industry is immune, including, perhaps most notably, the world of information technology. This realm also continues to be challenged in the area of diversity: that is, attracting women, veterans and people of color. Enter: Apprenti – a new U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeship program poised to be a true game changer in talent attraction and development.
Originally developed by the Seattle-based Washington Technology Industry Association, and brought to Southeast Michigan earlier this year by the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) through Department of Labor expansion funding, Apprenti is bringing the apprenticeship model to the world of IT – not a moment too soon. In the first quarter of 2018, there were more than 26,000 total job postings for IT positions in Southeast Michigan with 75 percent going unfilled due to the lack of qualified talent. Apprenti, which is being aggressively promoted and made available through a range of area entities – including Michigan Works! agencies, community colleges and other community partners – immediately caught the eye of a prominent IT leader: OneMagnify.
Andy Frey, CIO of OneMagnify (formerly Marketing Associates) recognized talent comes in many shapes, sizes and aptitudes and that drive and a desire to learn specific skills his company needs can be just as important as the traditional four-year degree. A visionary in downtown’s burgeoning IT cluster of companies, OneMagnify is at the forefront of job training and Apprenti’s first Michigan adopter. In fact, OneMagnify inaugurated its involvement by initially bringing two individuals on board. One, a high school graduate and prior company intern, is currently focusing on Linux administration training. The other, a computer science college graduate, is working toward becoming a Java developer. Both individuals will officially enter the workforce, post training, with salaries starting in the $60,000-$65,000 range.
Apprenti typically works like this: Anyone aged 18 or older with a high school diploma or GED can apply to take an assessment, which tests for aptitude in math, critical thinking/logic and soft skills. Those passing the assessment then take part in an in-person interview with WIN staff, and from there, move on to interviews with potential companies looking to hire. Once onboard, Apprenti program participants spend anywhere from two to five months engaged in upfront foundational skills training, paid for via a $1.5 million grant through the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation. This grant extends to employers within the Southeast Michigan region. Individuals then move to a one-year, paid, full-time, on-the-job training component with the employer, the latter encompassing approximately 2,000 hours. To date, more than 200 individuals have gone through the program nationally, including those already in the workforce looking to retrain and upskill.
“Those of us in the IT field have to examine all avenues in finding and cultivating the brightest and best personnel to serve our clients and our interests,” said Frey. “Apprenti is an ideal resource for training that serves as a win-win for everyone involved. We are building well-paying careers and keeping top talent here in our region.”
The key to success, according to John Sullivan, project manager for WIN, is for more companies, especially top management and human resource professionals, to similarly continue to evolve their approach to prospecting future employees.
“For decades the bachelor’s degree has been the baseline entry point for companies considering new talent,” said Sullivan. “It is our hope that, more and more, companies will also consider aptitude, work ethic and other foundational skills to identify untapped potential.”
And, while Apprenti candidates are far from one-size-fits-all when it comes to background and educational training, potential program companies can also come in all shapes and sizes – and focus. With technology virtually pervading every industry sector, opportunities exist for companies in such diverse industries as health care, utilities, insurance, automotive and more.
“What company doesn’t use technology today,” added Sullivan. “Through this new and innovative tool, we are poised to bring apprenticeships to new areas of commerce, fill jobs with skilled workers and move the Michigan economy forward.”
For more information about Apprenti in Southeast Michigan please visit: https://apprenticareers.org/locations/southeast-michigan/
For information about registered apprenticeships in general, please visit: https://miapprenticeship.org/