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Tech Apprenticeships ‘Promise A New Path For Diverse’ Candidates

Published Friday, May 1, 2020
by Brian Nordli/
Tech Apprenticeships ‘Promise A New Path For Diverse’ Candidates

(SEATTLE, WASHINGTON) - When Aeone Singson graduated from Seattle Central Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science, her prospects for a career as a UX Designer had never seemed bleaker.

At that point, she had spent years going to school on and off while working full-time minimum wage jobs to pay for tuition.

When she finally received the financial aid she needed to finish her Associate’s Degree in 2014, she still had to hustle between three campus jobs to make ends meet.

By the end of it, the two most traditional paths to a tech career - a bachelor’s degree or a boot camp - didn’t seem financially feasible without a job guaranteed at the end of it.

Still, she stayed involved in tech, stoking the embers of her dream working as a Technical Liaison at a health benefits platform company and teaching girls to code.

Then she came across Jennifer Carlson giving a presentation on her new company, Apprenti - which connects Technical Apprentices with companies - at an Advancing Careers of Technical Women Conference.

“Apprenti ‘solved all of my problems in that ten-minute talk,’” Singson said. “The ‘gap in my education would be filled with practical, on-the-job training.’  As a person who has worked ‘many, many’ jobs ‘and was able to get promoted at most of them, I knew that I could present myself well if I were just given the chance.’”

Singson joined the first cohort of Workers to go through Apprenti’s Apprenticeship Program in 2017.  After five months of classes, she apprenticed at Microsoft for a year and now works there as a Web Developer for Microsoft Stream. 

The program opened the doors that had all but closed to Singson after college.

“One of the things Apprenti said at the conference was, ‘We will help you, we will train you, and then we will ensure that you have a paid position after the on-the-job training,’” Singson said. “The process of Apprenticeship as Apprenti ‘structured it was more accessible.’”

While Apprenticeships have been around for centuries in Trade industries like Carpentry and Construction, it’s still a relatively new concept for the U.S. Tech Industry.

That’s something Apprenticeship Programs like Apprenti are hoping to change with support from the United States Government, which has now poured in $200 million to fund and support Apprenticeship endeavors in all industries - but especially tech.

With the tech industry struggling to find qualified candidates, Apprenticeships hold a lot of promise as an alternative hiring source and a pipeline for diverse candidates with non-traditional backgrounds, according to a University Ventures white Paper titled “Making Apprenticeships Work.”

In addition to organizations like Apprenti and the Colorado-based Techtonic Group, companies like Accenture, Microsoft and Pinterest have started their own programs.

But for Apprenticeships to work at scale, the industry will need to re-examine some of its preconceived notions of what kind of background is needed to work in tech.

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