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Apprenticeships Lay the Foundation for Tech Companies to Build the Workforce They Need


Chris Johnson, U.S. Jobs Intern, Consumer Technology Association

It's no secret that high-tech jobs like software development, data analytics and engineering are in high demand in the current labor market. According to CTA’s 2018 Future of Work Survey, 92% of respondents said they “will need more employees with technical skills” within the next five years.

What might not appear as obvious are the solutions tech companies are finding to solve this dilemma in effective recruitment efforts. To overcome the skill gap, CTA has championed the recent rise in the tech industry’s use of apprenticeship programs. Because apprenticeships provide on-the-job training, a more diverse range of candidates, like those who can’t afford to learn new skills while being unemployed, are able to fill these roles.

Here’s how CTA member companies LinkedIn, Airbnb and Phone2Action are thinking outside of traditional hiring practices to build diverse, highly-skilled workforces.

LinkedIn began its apprenticeship program in 2017, training 29 engineering apprentices – more than half of which were women and more than a third were from underrepresented groups – for six months.

“Many of these individuals wouldn’t have initially passed hiring screens at LinkedIn or other companies because their backgrounds—schools attended, degrees received, prior work experience, etc.—didn’t match the typical path of a software engineer,” said Shalini Agarwal, Director, Engineering and Product for Linkedin.

The Airbnb Connect program recruits individuals from traditionally-overlooked backgrounds looking to break into the tech field for a six-month intensive training program in engineering and data science. This program helps Airbnb diversify its workforce while bringing these opportunities to underserved communities.

Since 2015, civic tech startup Phone2Action has offered high school and college students a hands-on three-month fellowship program that teaches them technical skills relevant to the workforce, such as coding and product engineering. The program has been so successful in adding diverse perspectives to their new products that the company invested an additional $300,000 for salaries, trips and other benefits for their 2018 class of fellows.

“Many kids, especially younger girls, do not have exposure to technology and never consider pursuing it professionally. This is a practical way to help them,” Ximena Hartsock, co-founder of Phone2Action, said of the program in a blog post.

Tech apprenticeships fit the needs of U.S. companies looking for specific skill sets and opens the talent pipeline to diverse candidates. These three member companies are positive examples of the benefits of a diverse and inclusive tech workforce.

Learn more about CTA’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

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