Milwaukee Area Employers Embrace Tech Apprenticeship to Expand Talent Networks and Increase Opportunities for Job Seekers
View the story in the Milwaukee Business Journal
MILWAUKEE (October 11, 2021) – As employers across the country look to tap into new sources of tech talent, tech apprenticeships are continuing to grow in popularity. Following the success of the first MKE Tech Apprenticeship Cohort sponsored by Kohl’s, The MKE Tech Hub Coalition is now announcing the expansion to a multi-employer apprenticeship network to continue to build capacity for new talent pipelines in the region.
Registered Apprenticeship has a long tradition of attracting, developing and retaining mid-career talent. “Registered Apprenticeship offers numerous benefits to both employers and job seekers. It offers post-secondary education like a college or university, but there’s a big difference,” explains Joshua Johnson, DWD State Director of Wisconsin Apprenticeship. “Employers commit to provide both employment and training to selected candidates. However, only a fraction of their training happens in a classroom. Apprentices receive most of their training on-the-job under the mentorship of another employee skilled in the discipline they are learning.”
The first MKE Tech Apprenticeship cohort was sponsored by Kohl’s and launched in March of 2021. A total of ten registered apprentices have completed related instruction via Tech Elevator and have since transitioned to their project teams as software analyst/developer apprentices.
“Building capacity for Registered Tech Apprenticeships is a critical strategy for increasing the diversity of our tech workforce, supporting mid-career professionals choosing to transition to tech roles, and demonstrating a collective commitment to develop local tech talent.” said Laura Schmidt, chief talent development officer for the Coalition. “We are especially grateful to member employers for being a part of building this program together. We are simply unable to advance regional talent development strategies without employer support”.
The next cohort involves member companies from across industry segments who have pledged to sponsor one or more apprentices to join their tech workforce. Specifically: Associated Bank, Medical College of Wisconsin, MARS Solutions Group, and Sabhya Technologies.
"Associated Bank is well underway in its journey to transform the organization to better own its customer digital experiences. Registered Tech Apprenticeship is one of many strategies that will enhance Associated Bank’s efforts to recruit, develop and retain diverse technical talent from its own market and continue building digital solutions that meet the needs of the communities we serve." – Matt Upstone, Director of Digital Engineering.
As was the case with Kohl’s, this cohort will be powered by Apprenti, a strategic partner of the Coalition and TECNA at the national level. Candidates who are selected to participate will receive full time paid instruction beginning this fall and transition to employer sites for on-the-job training in the first quarter of 2022.
“Our primary challenge has been sourcing and vetting qualified candidates for apprenticeship. Our partnership with Apprenti solves for that. We are excited to start working with our new apprentice who will bring a new perspective to our work.” said Deepak Babu, CEO, Sabhya Technologies.
Apprenti identifies individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds with the interest and aptitude to succeed at a career in technology and supports them as they prepare for their new roles at Coalition member companies. Since launching 4 years ago, Apprenti has placed over 1,400 apprentices across 16 markets. Of those, the average age is 33, 62% are people of color, 48% are veterans, almost 25% are women, and 14% are people with disabilities. There are currently over 300 individuals who have expressed interest in a tech apprenticeship in the greater MKE region.
“We are committed to finding new ways to help those historically underrepresented in tech either start, or return to, a career in tech. The tech industry requires active engagement from those with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives to design and deploy relevant solutions for an innovation economy” said Rashi Khosla, CEO, MARS Solutions Group.
Wisconsin Fast Forward previously awarded the Coalition with a $385K grant to help offset some of the upfront costs of apprenticeship training. While this funding is currently focused on software developer/analyst positions, the Coalition would like to expand into other areas (such as Data, Cloud, Cyber, etc.) once we have a demonstrated commitment from regional employers to hire apprentices for those positions.
“There are growing needs in general imaging so collaboration with the CTSI team through Apprenti will provide strong benefits to high-demand occupations, such as radiology,” said Bradley Taylor, Chief Research Informatics Officer, Medical College of Wisconsin. “This class of apprentices will expand our radiology and CTSI programmer teams by more than 30 percent and 8% respectively. With gaining new knowledge at our core, we look forward to learning along with others in the MKE Tech Apprenticeship Network.”
About MKE Tech Hub Coalition
The MKE Tech Hub Coalition is a non-profit organization working to inclusively double tech talent in the Milwaukee region. We serve as a unifying voice for Milwaukee’s tech community, working with others to grow a vibrant, inclusive ecosystem where tech and innovation create enduring regional prosperity and life-changing jobs. Formed in late 2019, approx. 100 member organizations now collaborate to grow tech jobs matched with the right supply of skilled talent through K-20, reskilling and attraction/retention initiatives. Underlying all initiatives is an intentional focus on increasing the diversity of our tech talent. To learn more and signup for our newsletter, visit www.mketech.org.