IBM Celebrates US Apprenticeship Week 2019

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(4 min read) By Tommy Wenzlau

November 11 to 15, 2019 is US Apprenticeship week — and what a great week it was! We spent time in Washington DC with members of congress discussing Apprenticeship legislation, the Governor of Missouri recognized IBM as the 2019 Apprenticeship Employer of the Year, the California State Government and IBM launched the State’s first of its kind collaboration to create technology apprenticeships, and we announced a new Workforce Accelerator Program with Youngstown State University. This week also marks the second anniversary of the launch of the IBM Apprenticeship Program and so I wanted to take some time and update you on our progress.

Welcoming Apprentices Into Full-time Roles

In the past year, the IBM Apprenticeship Program welcomed hundreds of new apprentices coast-to-coast. More than 150 apprentices graduated into full-time roles, creating new pathways to employment for candidates with non-traditional backgrounds.

Apprenticeship is an “earn-while-you-learn” experience that runs for twelve months. The program includes hands-on experience, mentorship, and more than 200 hours of learning. We built apprenticeships in fields such as Data Science, Software Engineering, Tech Sales, and Cybersecurity—areas where companies like IBM need to hire great talent.

Keeping an Inclusive Mindset

Our apprentices come from all walks of life – students, veterans, career reinventors. We look for people with a growth mindset, strong collaboration skills and, most importantly, motivated to continue to grow, learn and embrace new opportunities.

Sound like you? Check out this page to learn more about the program. We post new roles every month.

Read these stories from real apprentices about their background and experiences about the program:

Why Apprenticeship Programs Are Important

Right now, the U.S. has over 700,000 open technology jobs, and IBM has thousands of job openings across the U.S. And like others in our industry, we cannot find enough candidates with the right mix of skills to fill these jobs.

We believe that companies bringing advanced technologies to market have a responsibility to prepare students and workers for the way those technologies will shape jobs and the nature of our work. Innovation should unlock opportunities to make our workforce more inclusive, not less.

IBM has invested heavily in New Collar jobs and training initiatives to address the tech industry’s skills gap. This creates multiple pathways for tech jobs by moving skills to the center of our organization’s talent model.

Skills Before Degrees

A lot of jobs in tech today aren’t “blue collar” or “white collar” jobs, they’re “new collar”. These roles prioritize skills and capabilities over degrees or having a traditional career path. What matters most to be successful is having the right mix of skills and a commitment to lifelong learning. This shift requires companies to provide opportunities for those previously shut out and build programs that prepare people for the future of work. Apprenticeship programs can do just that!

Calling on Other Employers to Join the Movement

IBM can’t do this alone. We want to help other companies launch their own apprenticeship programs. In January of 2019, we teamed up with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) to create the CTA Apprenticeship Coalition to provide frameworks and playbooks for other companies to start their own apprenticeship programs. We have had great success so far and companies like Bosch and Sony are on their way to launching their own programs. Click here to learn more and join the coalition.

Want to learn more about the different roles offered?  Visit the IBM New Collar Apprenticeship site.

About the Author
Tommy Wenzlau is the Talent Leader for IBM’s New Collar Initiatives where his team creates more pathways to employment for people without advanced degrees or that have been out of the workforce. They are working to help people prepare themselves for the work of tomorrow and develop in-demand skills.

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