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Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning for IT

May 30, 2020

Apprenticeship and other work-based learning programs provide IT businesses with an effective way to grow and diversify their workforces. As long as the tech industry continues to expand—and the number of IT jobs in other industries continues to rise—demand for highly skilled IT professionals will remain strong. However, many IT occupations are beyond the reach of people who aren’t already working in the field or who don’t have a postsecondary credential.

Pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs can break down barriers preventing people from pursuing IT jobs in a number of ways. For one thing, they provide participants with opportunities to gain the real-world work experience and industry-recognized credentials that employers value. Moreover, in addition to helping trainees master essential technical skills, these programs help people develop the employability skills that are essential to entering and advancing in a profession like IT. And on top of that, work-based learning programs enable participants to build social capital by providing them with meaningful connections to IT employers and experienced tech professionals.

To be effective, IT-focused work-based learning programs such as apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships should be developed in alignment with industry standards of professional expertise and proficiency, and they should include a meaningful amount of employer engagement.

A reliable way to ensure that a program will truly help participants develop skills that are in demand in the IT labor market is to get employers involved. Partners from the business community can offer valuable insights to guide the development of training coursework, and they may be willing to facilitate hands-on training activities.

The greater the degree of employer involvement, the greater the likelihood that they will support the apprenticeship model. That’s important because some employers have voiced concerns about the length of traditional pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, citing fears that the skills participants gain could be outdated by the time they finish their training, given the rapid pace at which technologies and IT credentials are evolving.

Engaging employers in the design and delivery of apprenticeships can help mitigate their concerns by giving them an opportunity to see firsthand how work-based learning activities and hands-on training, combined with classroom instruction, quality career exploration opportunities, and wraparound supports, strengthen participants’ technical skills and overall levels of job readiness.

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Resources for WBL in IT


Framework for a High-Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Program: IT

This pre-apprenticeship framework outlines the six key characteristics of a high-quality pre-apprenticeship program with a focus on the IT industry. What is Pre-Apprenticeship? This pre-apprenticeship framework outlines the six key characteristics of a high-quality pre-apprenticeship…

July 23, 2020

Debugged: Diversifying IT Through Effective Training Programs

In this webinar, JFF explored how IT training programs can become more effective, equitable, and aligned with industry needs. In this webinar, JFF explored how IT training programs can become more effective, equitable, and aligned…

October 9, 2020

How Nontraditional Technology Training Providers Can Strengthen the IT Talent Pipeline

Nontraditional technology training programs are becoming trusted providers of IT talent. Through internships, apprenticeships, and other exposure to the workplace, nontraditional technology training providers (NTTPs) are actively positioning themselves as competitive talent solutions to meet…

March 28, 2019

Tech-Focused Apprenticeships Need Employer Engagement to Thrive

Tech companies can’t wait around for their workforce to meet their needs. If these employers get engaged in apprenticeship, they can actively build their talent pools.

April 2, 2020

Effective Employer Engagement Practices: Observations from Select Technology Apprenticeship Programs

Observations from Select Technology Apprenticeship Programs This report highlights effective employer engagement practices and identifies key lessons learned from implementing technology focused apprenticeship programs. Related Content

September 2, 2018

Transforming IT Training Programs into Successful Career On-Ramps

The IT industry is dynamic and quickly evolving. As a surge of diverse training models across subsectors and occupations is becoming available, this is a unique opportunity to enhance training practices and better align them…

July 23, 2020

JFF WBL Bookshelf: IT

May 30, 2020

IT WBL Programs


Treehouse Uses Apprenticeship to Grow Diversity in Tech

Seeing a need across the industry, Treehouse has developed a business model from placing underrepresented workers into tech apprenticeships.

March 20, 2020
Case Study

San Francisco IT Apprenticeship Program Gains Traction with Help from JFF

Facing a steep learning curve, TechSF was having trouble launching an apprenticeship initiative—until JFF stepped in as an advisor. According to the Brookings Institution, 90 percent of the new high-tech innovation sector jobs that have…

May 31, 2020