Apprenticeship offers career pathways to bridge the talent gap
You hear it all the time: tech jobs are in high demand. In fact, almost half of Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America for 2019 is made up of roles like software developer, UX designer and systems engineer. So how do talent-hungry tech companies find employees? For Columbus-based Apprenti, apprenticeships are the answer. With the goal of creating an employable pipeline of women, veterans and underserved communities, Apprenti is providing the connections, training and opportunities to close the tech talent gap.
“Apprenti is a nonprofit headquartered in Seattle,” said Kevin Gadd, Ohio program manager. “Tech companies are constantly working to solve the problem of not having enough tech talent to fill open positions. This problem is exacerbated because a lot of companies require college degrees, and there’s no way that four-year degrees can produce enough people to meet the demand. So, we’ve got a giant gap between supply and demand that Apprenti’s registered apprenticeship helps to solve.”
As Ohio’s only registered IT apprenticeship program, Apprenti developed a tried-and-true model that has been funded by the Department of Labor. In order to guarantee success for underrepresented groups or individuals looking to make a career change, interested applicants must pass an assessment to enter in a pool of possible candidates. Apprenti then partners with companies willing to accept new entrants and conducts interviews on their behalf. Once the company finds the right fit, the new apprentice then undergoes training in a program like TechElevator before they enter a paid, one-year structured apprenticeship.
“We’re the middle man, acting as a program and project manager,” said Gadd. “We have the certification for our program, so we manage the entire process from finding the companies and candidates before initiating paid training. Because of this, when a company is ready to hire someone on, there’s no bias. They don’t know your gender or race — they’re hiring you purely based on talent and potential.”
As a veteran who works with Bunker Labs, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier, Gadd knows a thing or two about making sure that great employment opportunities are accessible to all. And if he can close the tech gap while doing it? You bet he’s on board.
“We just had a graduating class with eight people starting at Chase, five people starting at Huntington, nine people of color, and 11 veterans,” said Gadd. “It’s inspiring work because so many families come up and shake my hand or hug me. One graduate’s daughter drew a picture of me with a Superman cape because she’s so thankful that we were able to get her mom a job. This program was life changing. We do a good thing for good people, and it’s working.”
Apprenti is quickly growing their range and impact in Ohio, expanding resources to Cincinnati where they are currently accepting applications.
“When JobsOhio reached out to us and expressed interest in Apprenti coming to Ohio, we were thrilled,” said Gadd. “We have a ton of open jobs and interested candidates. We love providing the opportunity, through grit and determination, to get them there. At the end of the day, they have a certification from the Department of Labor that leaves them poised to fill those gaps and we’re happy to initiate that process.”