Stories

Apprenticeship programs help workers re-skill

From left: Reggie Harden; Ryan Reed; Dolica Gopisetty (Photos: Accenture, IBM, AWS)
From left: Reggie Harden; Ryan Reed; Dolica Gopisetty. Photos: Accenture, IBM, AWS

Apprenticeship programs are no longer just for plumbers and electricians. They are an increasingly popular way to groom workers for technical roles.

Why it matters: A number of metro areas (and suburbs) are leveraging their community colleges to create a pipeline of workers in tandem with wooing companies to set up shop there. Apprenticeships are more frequently part of those efforts.

  • I talked to 3 tech workers who've completed programs run by different tech companies.

Reggie Hardin, 44, of San Antonio completed a 3-month Accenture apprenticeship after a 20-year Air Force career. He found the program through a local nonprofit that focuses on mid-career skills training. Soon after, Accenture hired him as a full-time employee as a Salesforce developer.

Ryan Reed, 38, of Raleigh wanted tech training after injuries forced him to retire from a 15-year career as a firefighter and paramedic. He struck out trying to find entry-level tech jobs without a degree, and he stumbled on a 12-month IBM apprenticeship in software programming. The pay and benefits were essential for him to support his 4 children while learning new skills. He's now a full-time IBM employee.

Dolica Gopisetty, 21, of Fairfax is a senior at George Mason University studying IT. She wants to get a job in cloud computing so she enrolled in AWS Educate, a noncredit training program the company helped develop at Virginia colleges to pick up specialized skills.

  • "It's not just about your degree, it's also about the skills you can learn on top of that to stand out from other applicants," she said.

Why you'll hear about this again: Apprenticeships allow companies to continuously adjust what and how they are teaching to fit current needs in factories, IT departments or data centers.

  • It also gives companies a way to create jobs in parts of the country where tech jobs are scarce. IBM, for example, offers apprenticeships in West Virginia, Missouri, Iowa and Louisiana.

What to watch: The rise of apprenticeships and in-house "academies" mean companies may rely less on traditional colleges to supply talent. That opens an opportunity for cities to tie school with employment as they try to attract and keep employers.