Apprenticeships in IT Have a Promising Practice to Follow


Lonnie Emard

A letter from IT-oLogy President Lonnie Emard.

At several different times over the last year, IT-oLogy was included in national conversations with Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez regarding how to grow the number of apprentices in the US.  Ever since President Obama challenged the Department of Labor to double the number of registered apprentices within five years, they have been seeking an industry-driven response designed to provide a consistent talent pipeline for business.

IT-oLogy has participated in three meetings with Secretary Perez over the last eight months in Washington, Columbia and next week in San Francisco.  The effort, ApprenticeshipUSA, is part of shared efforts to expand the 21st century “earn and learn” model across all industries.  I will be one of 30 individuals meeting next week to specifically focus on apprenticeships in IT and the task force is called Sectors of Excellence in Apprenticeship (SEA).

We are fortunate that IT-oLogy has collaborated in South Carolina with Apprenticeship Carolina, who has been nationally recognized for growing apprenticeships across the state utilizing proven models of success.  Apprenticeships had traditionally been successful in manufacturing and construction, but limited in other industries or professions.  Two areas that are showing tremendous possibilities for growth are healthcare and information technology.  DOL views IT-ology as an intermediary that can help scale promising practices in apprenticeships across the country by involving numerous companies that are hiring IT professionals and are part of the IT-oLogy organization.

As part of IT-oLogy, we are blessed with an organization, BlueCross BlueShield South Carolina, which has been recognized by the Department of Labor as one of the leaders in IT apprenticeships.  Since the inception of the Apprenticeship Carolina program, BCBSSC has certified 217 apprentices.  The promising practices that accompany successful implementation will be a part of what we will be sharing in the SEA meeting next week.

In anticipation of future expansion, I would like to invite all companies that are currently part of IT-oLogy or potential new companies reading this blog, to consider how apprenticeships might become an avenue for your company to onboard talent in information technology.  The goal of IT-oLogy lines up well with the DOL strategy as we were formed to share promising practices and details around how companies can use proven ideas to achieve success without having to start from “ground zero”.

We plan to begin delivering information sessions for interested organizations to learn more about the model for apprenticeships in IT.  There will be some financial incentives built in to help get the “learn and earn” model implemented.  The bottom line is that this strategy can have a direct impact on a company’s ability to attract, develop and retain IT talent amidst what we know is a shortage of supply versus demand.

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