2019 Top Trends in Technology Apprenticeships

Technology is eroding norms across all sectors, from real estate and health care to energy and finance, and everything in between. There's virtually no industry that's immune to its influence. Essentially, this means the demand for talented employees who can build and maintain complex IT systems is at an all-time high. Whether they're installing a local area network or developing a proprietary A.I. - skilled tech workers are being gobbled up at an alarming rate.

Increasingly, companies in the U.S. are tapping alternative talented development sources, including apprenticeship programs to fill the void. This article will discuss the top five tech apprenticeship trends we foresee in 2019.

WIDESPREAD ACCEPTANCE

Largely fueled by the talent shortage, American companies are now more receptive to technical apprenticeship programs than ever before. Bigwig firms like Apple, IBM and others now openly buck orthodoxy, "abandoning the four-year degree as a qualification." We believe this trend of "acceptance" will continue into 2019 and beyond.

For the better part of a century, our nation's K-12 education system has been skewed toward preparing workers of tomorrow for college rather than the labor market. In fact, U.S. News says the system was purposely designed this way "because of concerns that young people would choose apprenticeships that led to menial jobs rather than enter conventional degree programs." However, thanks to the tech boom powered by the internet, the U.S. government is now beginning to see these programs through a new lens.

Apprenticeships will soon become more synonymous with developers and engineers than plumbers and machinist. Additionally, we will also see an increase in apprenticeships in other non-traditional industries such as advanced manufacturing, finance, healthcare and biotech.

INCREASED REGULATION / STANDARDIZATION

Naturally, government acceptance means regulation. But while the U.S. government has been in the business of certifying apprenticeship programs for nearly a century, the current regulatory framework is outdated, convoluted, and not auspicious with regard to high-skilled technical work. For example, the Department of Labor's list of all available occupations in registered apprenticeship includes harpsichord makers and neon sign servicers, but not cybersecurity experts.

Through our very own United States Department of Labor certified Techtonic Academy, we have long been in a position to help clients understand the various regulations and standards that apply to tech apprenticeships. In years to come, we will continue to stay abreast of changes as further guidelines are introduced in an effort to improve the overall quality of such programs. The DOL is now taking a more progressive approach to new apprenticeships with the launch of IRAP Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, which will allow trade associations and non-governmental entities to define and certify apprenticeship programs that meet the needs industry standards.

QUALITY OF EDUCATION

In the end, we believe government oversight will be beneficial for students as well as providers. As New America put it, "today's landscape of youth apprenticeship programs is fragmented, with significant variation in program design and quality. This fragmentation complicates efforts by industry and education partners to start and lead efforts in communities and states, and sends mixed signals to students, parents, policymakers."

Industry analysts say we can expect a marked increase in the quality of education once lawmakers institute clear standards by which all programs must oblige.

COMPETITION

As Americans continue to see apprenticeships as a viable alternative (or preface) to college, expect competition to increase. Government stats show roughly 70% of our nation's 3.1 million graduating seniors go on to attend college after completing high school. That's over 2.2 million students each year.

Even if just 5% of high school grads opted for an apprenticeship program instead, that would be a whopping 155,000 new applicants.

OPPORTUNITIES

The year 2017 was capped by the Trump Administration's $200 million commitment to 'learn-to-earn' skill-building programs. Supported by ex-Fed Chair Janet Yellen and Salesforce's Marc Benioff, the goal of the bold initiative is to train and hire some five million workers over the course of five years.

Just one year later, lawmakers in Washington passed The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a $1.2 billion investment that "creates new opportunities to improve CTE (career and technical education) and enables more flexibility for states to meet the unique needs of their learners, educators, and employers."

Still, in 2019, the Department of Veteran Affairs launched its VET TEC program, an initiative designed "to give veterans another opportunity to use nontraditional training like coding boot camps to access jobs in information technology, computer software, information science, media applications, data processing, and computer programing fields."

Needless to say, as the aforementioned trends continue, apprenticeship opportunities will grow abound.

AUTHOR - Nate Aswege

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