6. Transition into a Registered Apprenticeship or Other High-Quality Apprenticeship Program
Sixth component in JFF's Framework for a High-Quality IT Pre-Apprenticeship Program
This is the sixth component of the Framework for a High-Quality IT Pre-Apprenticeship Program from JFF's Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning.
IT pre-apprenticeship programs should partner with industry, employers, unions, intermediaries, and the public workforce system to facilitate placements.
It is important for pre-apprenticeships to understand the hesitancy of IT employers to hire candidates without traditional tech backgrounds, while also cultivating relationships with non-IT employers that have IT jobs as well as regional IT industry associations.
As noted above, few IT employers host WBL opportunities or hire job candidates who lack traditional IT training. High-quality pre-apprenticeship programs should work to understand and address the various concerns or apprehensions of IT employers about these on-ramp programs while also focusing on building out partnerships with promising IT employers. Programs can start by cultivating industry partners that host WBL and career-exploration activities or contribute to training design, because that involvement may indicate a willingness to hire graduates for an apprenticeship or job. IT pre-apprenticeship programs can also reach out to regional IT industry associations operating in their area to expand the network of potential employers for apprenticeship or job placement.
Pre-apprenticeships can also benefit from prioritizing partnerships with non-IT employers that have IT jobs and apprenticeships. It can be easier to secure job placements with these entities due to their demonstrated willingness to engage with the apprenticeship system and to hire diverse job candidates. Similarly, smaller IT companies are attractive partners because they generally have a stronger track record than their larger counterparts of hiring a range of jobseekers with diverse training backgrounds and experiences and facilitating their career advancement.
IT pre-apprenticeship programs should work with program sponsors to determine their form of selection preference for program graduates, such as guaranteed interviews or direct entry into a high-quality apprenticeship.
Where apprenticeship programs do not yet exist, align with the standards of leading national Registered Apprenticeships such as Apprenti and IBM, or with the Urban Institute competency-based framework for IT Registered Apprenticeships.
Where relevant Registered Apprenticeships or other high-quality apprenticeships exist, IT pre-apprenticeship programs can follow the best practices of programs across sectors. Pre-apprenticeship programs formalize a partnership with sponsors confirming that their program equips participants with the technical and employability skills required to enter the apprenticeship. The form of the articulated agreement could vary but should include some benefit to pre-apprentices in the selection process.
Apprenticeship in the IT sector is still new and is evolving quickly. Programs can reach out to the federal Office of Apprenticeship or their state apprenticeship agency representative to identify where Registered Apprenticeship sponsors exist or where new programs are in the process of launching. Many pre-apprenticeship programs might be located in areas that do not yet have high-quality apprenticeships or might be preparing for IT pathways that lack such apprenticeships. In these cases, IT pre-apprenticeship programs can look to existing IT Registered Apprenticeships that are national leaders. Programs such as Apprenti and IBM, as well as the Urban Institute’s competency-based apprenticeship frameworks for IT, set the sector standards and can help pre-apprenticeships match the technical skill requirements of IT Registered Apprenticeships that come to the community. While the relationship with an apprenticeship is generally what distinguishes a pre-apprenticeship program from other training on-ramps, pre-apprenticeship programs aligned with national sponsors will be well positioned to establish a local partnership as soon as a sponsor exists.
IT pre-apprenticeship programs should facilitate the provision of advanced standing when the curriculum of the pre-apprenticeship program overlaps with the apprenticeship program.
IT pre-apprenticeship programs should draw on best practices for curriculum design leading to advanced standing regardless of industry.
The same caveats hold true for IT pre-apprenticeships seeking advanced standing as with establishing relationships with Registered Apprenticeship sponsors for considering apprenticeship candidates. Many communities do not have relevant IT Registered Apprenticeship programs, but pre-apprenticeship programs can use the related instruction outlines of national leaders to design a curriculum likely to qualify for advanced standing. Ultimately, the local Registered Apprenticeship sponsor will be responsible for deciding whether to grant advanced standing to pre-apprenticeship graduates.
Connecting Grads to Postsecondary Education
IT pre-apprenticeship programs should connect program graduates who do not enter an apprenticeship to a postsecondary education and training option, or to an employer in a related field for an interview.
More pre-apprentices are likely to continue outside of the apprenticeship system in IT than other sectors, and four-year degrees remain highly valuable in the industry.
While apprenticeships in the IT sector are growing, opportunities are still much more limited than in other industries, and degrees are still highly valued. Even where Registered Apprenticeship programs exist, not all pre-apprentices will want to continue on to an apprenticeship. IT pre-apprenticeship programs can maximize entrance to the sector and career advancement by providing clear connections to non-apprenticeship pathways in addition to RA. This includes aligning the program with postsecondary credit and cultivating employers to hire pre-apprentices into their entry-level jobs (see section 5).