Pick your word — unprecedented, extraordinary, or just plain strange — 2020 has been a year like none before. These crises — from COVID-19 to social unrest — created the need for radical and swift changes in our approach to the workforce.
During these uncertain times, creating an apprenticeship program may not seem like a workforce priority. Yet, tech apprenticeships are critical to economic recovery. Now is the time to expand apprenticeship programs to help the millions unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic get back to work faster. Maria Flynn, President and CEO of Jobs for the Future, captured this need well when she said, “the Americans first to lose their jobs in a recession are often the last hired in an upswing.” Apprenticeships can help us change this “first out, last in” paradigm as our economy and country begin to recover.
Jobs are available in the tech industry and there is still a skills gap between those available positions and the skilled workforce. Apprenticeships offer a flexible model that meets the workforce where they are in their career journey to fill these available jobs. They create a pathway to serve the under-represented and unemployed by providing training for in-demand skills for workers who need it most, all while earning a liveable wage. They provide opportunity and access to those who are often overlooked in the industry, including community college students, veterans, high school graduates, career re-inventors and other under-represented communities. If anything, the coronavirus pandemic reinforced the need to find ways to offer additional opportunities to fill high-demand, high-skilled positions.
To address the challenges of starting an apprenticeship program during a time of such uncertainty, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® interviewed members of the CTA Apprenticeship Coalition, each in a different stage of their journey to create or run an apprenticeship program. Through these interviews and industry research, CTA and our industry partner IBM created a playbook to help build stakeholder awareness and buy-in for apprenticeship programs.
The playbook covers how the pandemic has accelerated the future of work to a highly digital world of remote work and increased automation. Organizations and employees are learning how to be productive and effective remotely. How we work, where we work, and our workforce is transforming. Each of these areas must be considered for establishing and running an apprenticeship program. The playbook also covers specific use cases to meet current business challenges:
Apprenticeships are key to preparing employees for the new ways we work. They are a solution to train employees for the exact needs of an organization and for new demands that will emerge. They are also an important way to advance a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Because even in such uncertain times, what we know is certain: the future will demand more digital skills and diverse perspectives — and apprenticeships are a proven way to meet this need.