WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: Apprenti
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Apprenti, founded in 2016, is an organization that bridges the talent and diversity gaps in the technology industry by adapting the time-tested model of apprenticeship to meet evolving workforce needs. Apprenti uniquely combines technical education and on-the-job training to place highly motivated people into IT roles -- regardless of educational background. Furthermore, Apprenti is committed to providing opportunities to underrepresented communities, with nearly 90% of its participants being women, people of color and/or veterans.

In early 2019, Apprenti began operations in Massachusetts. As a Program Manager, I launched and managed the ongoing statewide implementation of our program. This included managing apprentice recruitment and retention, onboarding employers, and interfacing with state and federal agencies. I also fostered relationships with a wide variety of stakeholder groups, including industry partners, technical training providers, community-based organizations, and apprentices themselves.

The Challenge

Enable a wide array of employers to effectively train and retain tech apprentices from underrepresented backgrounds.

The Outcome

A set of tools and trainings, customized for different stakeholder groups, on how to support apprentices and develop long-term program sustainability.

When Apprenti  launched in Massachusetts, it became the state's first ever Registered Apprentice Program for jobs in tech. Our employer partners were enthusiastic about hiring apprentices who would both bolster and diversify their tech workforce. While we had enormous support from a variety of stakeholder groups, we also had to ensure the program was delivered with a high degree of fidelity and consistency across all of these divisions. However, Apprenti did not have a standardized set of onboarding tools, hindering quick and effective adoption.

To create the necessary tools, I began engaging with our employer partners to better understand their needs. I led roundtable discussions with talent acquisition, HR, executive leadership, and hiring managers across multiple organizations to get feedback on a number of topics. These meetings helped identify our employer partners' knowledge gaps about apprenticeship, pain points with integrating new talent, and desired outcomes.

After synthesizing this feedback, a set of key takeaways emerged. First, employers signaled the need for a concise and easily understood set of checkpoints for program implementation. Additionally, each group needed individualized training to better understand the core tenants of apprenticeship and how they could support apprentices. Finally, with the vast majority of apprentices coming from diverse backgrounds, employers wanted additional insight into DEI best practices.

With this feedback in mind, I created a set of guides, tools, and learning experiences to meet the needs of our employer partners. First was the Apprenti Employer Roadmap, a simple single-page guide that summarized the key checkpoints in the apprenticeship process. The Roadmap contained hyperlinks to reference documents, and -with a minimal amount of information - the checkpoints could be easily filled in using a novel autofill function.

In conjunction with the Roadmap, I designed our Apprenti Orientation, a customizable training series that equipped employers with information about effectively managing apprentices. Crucially, participants were provided insight into disability accommodation and fostering a sense of belonging for apprentices of diverse backgrounds. Over time, these trainings were enhanced in partnership with Apprenti's own DEI experts and Disability Accommodations teams.

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The Impact
  • Over 100 apprentices placed at more than a dozen companies, including Wayfair, VMware, and Mass General Brigham

  • Over 80% of apprentices retained by their host companies after one year, far outpacing the average tenure of a tech employee

  • Retained apprentices more than doubled their salary on average (as compared to prior to joining the program)

  • Tools & trainings adopted for use across all Apprenti markets

Designing and delivering these guides, tools, and learning experiences tangibly improved our programmatic outcomes. Our employers retained their apprentices at a far greater-than-industry average, the vast majority of whom brought new and diverse perspectives to their companies. Our work in Massachusetts was recognized by Governor Charlie Baker and State Secretary of Labor Rosalin Acosta, who pledged to contribute more than $240 million to expand Massachusetts' apprenticeship programs.