With a high demand for skilled workers in tech, professional development is essential for companies and job seekers alike. However, as technology continues to reshape our society as a whole, it changes job requirements. Apprenticeships are growing to be the desired pathway to a career in tech while attending to the recent shortage of tech talent.

According to McKinsey & Company research, about half of all work activities could become automated by 2055, or potentially as soon as 2035. Technology advances so rapidly that the education industry cannot keep up with the demand, which only contributes to the ongoing national labor shortage. A rise in tech apprenticeships can help combat this issue by benefiting employers, tech apprentices, and industries as a whole. 

Adult Apprenticeships in Tech.

What tech apprenticeships offer.

Tech apprenticeship programs provide career opportunities for aspiring professionals who come from various nontraditional backgrounds. Apprenticeships for tech give aspiring professionals a chance to emerge into the industry without gatekeeping positions that require a degree. Instead, employers who offer apprenticeships will consider a combination of the applicant’s prior experience, training, and education to gauge whether they are the right fit for the role. 

A very appealing aspect of apprenticeships is that candidates will get paid as they learn. Paid tech apprenticeships allow promising candidates to earn an income while training and working under their employer (as opposed to wracking up thousands of dollars in debt from a four-year institution.)

How tech apprenticeships have evolved.

Instead of requiring candidates to have a four-year degree, apprenticeship programs factor in the candidate’s technical, soft, and leadership skills as well as experience. This gives the apprentices the chance to increase their earning potential through further skill development and acquire credentials through industry-recognized certifications. Apprenticeships also create opportunities for many minorities who are underrepresented in tech by working around the previous degree requirements to emerge into the workforce. The individuals who fill these apprentice positions are known as new collar workers.

The Rise of New Collar Workers.

New collar workers are a growing trend in the workforce as they contribute to mending the labor shortage in the tech industry. Many new collar workers take nontraditional education paths and are trained through community colleges, vocational schools, software boot camps, technical certification programs, high school technical education, or on-the-job apprentices and internships.

In recent years, the standards for apprenticeships in tech have shifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With social distancing in effect, many companies adapted to working remotely. Remote tech apprenticeship programs help hone timely skills in a professional climate. Working remotely is also beneficial to apprentices who may not have access to these career opportunities where they live. 

An ongoing issue in tech is the retention of employees from less represented backgrounds. The rise and demand for new collar workers have opened up more opportunities for minority groups to access apprenticeships. Investing time, training, and money into apprentices will keep them motivated to stay as they grow with the company. When apprentices are provided with compensation, benefits, and personal development opportunities, companies will see a return on their investment within the program.  

Adult Apprenticeships Introduce a Larger Pool of Candidates.

There is a big misconception that apprenticeships are solely for the impressionable younger crowd. Apprenticeships are no longer just for 16 to 25 year olds. There is a wide range of apprenticeships available based on level of mastery. These levels are split into four categories: intermediate, advanced, higher, and degree. 

Modern apprenticeships have evolved to suit the needs of individuals who are 25 and older. Adult candidates benefit from apprenticeships to further their education and earn credentials, many of whom have switched careers entirely. Adult apprenticeships provide immense support for those who are eager to access a new level of training and education later in life.

It’s important to note that apprenticeships are not designed for certain age groups; they are created to provide training, real-world experience, and a point of entry to emerge into the tech industry. 

Examples of Tech Apprenticeships

Examples of Tech Apprenticeships (and Their Qualifications).

The minimum qualifications for apprentices will differ based on each company. Although some apprenticeships will require a high school diploma or trade school experience, other programs like IBM’s New Collar Apprenticeship program have no educational requirements. IBM searches for apprentices that have a passion for technology, an appetite for learning, and determination to succeed. The program was specifically created for those who don’t have a four-year bachelor’s degree in the field but have acquired knowledge in the domain. The competency-based program is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and allows apprentices to earn a paycheck while they build skills for various strategic roles. Launched in 2017, the program has expanded to more than 25 registered apprenticeship roles, including cybersecurity, software development, data science, and design.

Another innovative approach to developing skilled workers is the IBM Tech Re-Entry Program, which seeks individuals looking to rejoin the workforce after a career break. This paid “returnship” provides a path back to full-time employment and aids individuals in modernizing their skills with learning.

Other companies like Google make apprenticeships available to anyone over the age of 18 who meets the minimum requirements of the specific job listing. Google believes that apprenticeships can create equitable pathways to develop digital skills. In giving apprentices the chance to earn a salary as they learn and gain work experience, their apprenticeship tech program results in a meaningful experience, a sense of community, and job readiness for a career in tech.

Meanwhile, Microsoft clarifies that they don’t believe in the traditional notion of “work experience” and recruit apprentices with unconventional educational backgrounds. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. With opportunities for both technical and business-related roles, they offer a competitive salary and benefits.

Due to the variety of apprenticeship tech programs offered in the industry, there is no set of standard apprentice qualifications and often tailored to the needs of the employer. Although qualifications vary, generally apprenticeships are built to be accessible to individuals with a hunger to learn, perform, and thrive in the tech world.

Adult Apprenticeship and Tech's Future

Adult Apprenticeships Role in Tech’s Future.

Why tech companies need apprentices.

The work-based learning offered in tech apprenticeships is entirely dedicated to skill development—something that employees and employers will benefit from. As companies hire more apprentices, the talent pipeline will grow, and the technology skills gap will shrink.

Remember that apprenticeships are not just for new starts. These programs can also be used for reskilling or upskilling existing staff at tech companies. As jobs continue to change within the climate of the workforce, tech apprenticeship programs allow companies to upskill employees into new roles. In the long run, employee retention and promotion allow staff to gain a wider understanding of the business, which is a huge advantage for employers.

Tech apprenticeships will be the future of technical education.

Tech apprenticeships create a pipeline of talent that could significantly decrease the recent shortage of tech talent. According to a 2020 member survey conducted by Consumer Technology Association, 75 percent of respondents report that it is difficult to find candidates with proper skills and abilities, and 80 percent report they will need more of those hard-to-find team members. Luckily, the industry standards are changing as almost 75 percent now say that they will hire based on skill level, regardless of the applicant’s level of education. 58 percent of respondents shared that their company does not require a college degree. 

In an effort to bridge the opportunity gap, almost nine out of 10 respondents have at least one current or planned program to enhance diversity and inclusion in their organization, and 43 percent plan to devote resources to hiring more employees from underrepresented backgrounds. As more companies source for non-traditional talent, apprenticeships not only open doors to individuals who are underrepresented in the field but also open doors to untapped growth for the companies that bring them on board.

The many issues employers face today—difficulty finding good candidates, lack of diversity in the workforce, and adjusting to remote work—are being resolved through tech apprenticeship programs. It is expected that train-to-hire programs will continue to rise in popularity as more companies reap the benefits of implementing tech apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeship occupations are in high demand.

IT companies are faced with complex challenges in keeping up with the demands of rapid tech advancements. Currently, there is a high demand for apprenticeship occupations, including computer technicians, software developers, network administrators, cybersecurity analysts, web developers, designers, and IT project managers. 

Fortunately, apprenticeship programs are becoming more readily available in Indiana with the help of partnering with an experienced provider like New Apprenticeship. New Apprenticeship is a top national partner of TechPoint. Through this collaboration, employers will soon have access to Registered Apprenticeships in cloud computing, cybersecurity, data, digital marketing, and more. Additionally, TechPoint is currently developing software and tech sales apprenticeship programs with local partners including Ivy Tech Community College, Sandler Training, and Eleven Fifty Academy. These resourceful opportunities immensely aid in overcoming the challenges of filling tech roles that many tech employers face. 

Another resource to consider is that Apprenticeship USA in collaboration with the Urban Institute offers national competency-based frameworks for IT occupations that are consensus-based. More so, these frameworks are drafted by employers, educators, and workforce training experts. Employers can utilize these frameworks to accelerate the development of their registered apprentices. Since these frameworks are competency-based, the apprentice’s abilities are valued over memorized knowledge. 

Apprentices bring fresh ideas to the table, enhance efficiency, and tech apprenticeships can be an invaluable tool for the longevity of tech companies across the board. Interested in learning more about programs and opportunities in talent solutions? Sign up to explore options for hiring apprentices at your company and get notified when TechPoint and its partners have opportunities to join the movement to skills-based hiring.