Solving Your Digital Workforce Crisis With An Innovative Approach

Solving Your Digital Workforce Crisis With An Innovative Approach

Solving Your Digital Workforce Crisis with an Innovative Approach  

Is your organization facing challenges finding, hiring, and retaining tech talent? Are you finding applicants with the skills and knowledge needed to support your IT help desk? And, are you identifying candidates with the talent and experience required to move your IT help desk or engineer networks forward?  All so critical to business success today?

The Perfect IT Help Desk Support, Data, and Security Storm

The challenges are real: in the ever-evolving world of technology, it’s hard for business support teams to find employees who can keep up, much less stay ahead. New applications, varied devices, network security, data storage, and maintenance – each piece integral to helping customers streamline operations, provide the necessary tools to be effective, and meet the expectations of savvy consumers. Who keeps it all running smoothly?

Trained Help Desk Technicians and Network Engineers are crucial to economic success across sectors – they keep the data flowing. Yet finding the right balance between hard and soft skills can be elusive. Qualified applicants are difficult to find, candidates lack the right experience, and successful employees unfortunately leave.

Global Talent Issues

It’s not just you. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of job openings in the U.S. rose to 7.5 million by the end of March. And according to 43% of employers, IT positions remain the most difficult to fill.

This makes perfect sense when you consider that there are ten open positions in the technology sector for every one graduate. Fierce competition for such limited resources results in key positions remaining unfilled, allowing digital infrastructures to degrade and decay, and technical support to lag.

Global Training Issues

Those unfilled positions cost more than time and productivity, they cost money – an average of $800,000 annually, according to CareerBuilder.

Why is it so difficult to find digital talent? Close to half of employers blame higher education for the widening skills gap, alleging that four-year institutions aren’t preparing enough work-ready candidates for available positions. And given that 54% of all U.S. jobs require more than a high-school diploma but less than a four-year degree for success, now is the time to consider innovative solutions.

Global Turnover Issues

Maintaining a digital workforce current on new trends and emerging technology isn’t only imperative for your business, it’s essential for worker retention. Over half of digitally talented employees are willing to change jobs to keep their skills from stagnating.

And, Americans are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate in seventeen years, seeking positions with higher pay, better benefits, or opportunities to get ahead. When you consider the cost of losing a worker can range from one-and-a-half to two times their annual salary, suddenly retaining talent and experience becomes a priority.

The Solution

A variety of factors play into the digital workforce crisis: a limited pool of exceptional candidates, a lack of critical training opportunities, and an inability to retain talented employees. The data points to a national issue with a stunning impact right down to the community level.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Apprenticeships offer an innovative approach to finding, training, and retaining talented Help Desk Technicians and Network Engineers.

Apprenticeships provide a nimble, adaptive workforce fully prepared to excel within your organization. They’re the answer to the skilled labor shortage, the path to middle-skills recruitment, and the solution to attracting – and retaining – talent.

Franklin Apprenticeships offers employers, workforce development, job seekers, and educators with an innovative, modernized approach to solve the digital workforce crisis head-on. For instance, we are partnering with the State of Missouri to offer Missouri Digital, the State of Maryland, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to offer Franklin Digital, our apprenticeship programs built for Computer Help Desk and Network Engineer positions.

Let us help you to take the first step in keeping your data, communications, processes, and business flowing smoothly. Contact us today to learn more about the opportunities available through Missouri Digital and Franklin Digital.

 

Franklin Apprenticeships Brings Its Digital Apprenticeships Program to Maryland

Franklin Apprenticeships Brings Its Digital Apprenticeships Program to Maryland

Franklin Apprenticeships announced today, May 20, 2019, a press release communicating the benefits of a new partnership with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to bring its Digital Apprenticeship program to the State. The program is a response to the growing demand from Maryland employers who need assistance filling their talent pipeline with skilled tech workers – one of the most important workforce issues facing businesses, today.

The Digital Apprenticeships program applies a proven model that builds a motivated, skilled workforce by attracting, training, and certifying a diverse pool of career ready, job-ready candidates.  Program participants receive recruitment, on boarding, and mentoring support — including certified Success Coaches to maximize apprenticeship completion, industry certification, and success rates.

Initial candidate roles are focused on IT Help Desk, but plans are underway for expansion into Network Engineer and Cyber Security Specialists.

Interested employers and job seekers are encouraged to apply.

Contact us to learn more about Franklin Apprenticeships or read the full press release.

Franklin Apprenticeships And State Of Missouri Announce Partnership

Franklin Apprenticeships And State Of Missouri Announce Partnership

In a recent press release from April 8, 2019, Franklin Apprenticeships announced a key partnership with the State of Missouri aimed at creating modernized apprenticeship programs in both the automotive and IT industries. This groundbreaking new program will solve skilled labor shortages, create new middle skills career pathways, and help communities in Missouri attract new talent.

The State of Missouri has been working diligently since 2016 to help its displaced workers, students and graduates find sustainable and successful careers. The new Missouri Digital and AutoMOtive! Programs will increase the skill and education levels of its residents while enhancing the states competitiveness in these industries.

Franklin Apprenticeships offers expertise and a proven model of apprenticeship development and were engaged to bring employers to the table to address the local economic needs of Missouri and to develop a skilled workforce. This expertise and collaboration with Missouri’s Department Of Workforce Development will help fill jobs that Missouri employers need to improve productivity and innovation and provide opportunities for Missouri citizens to learn in-demand skills and create new careers.

Contact us to learn more about Franklin Apprenticeships or read the full press release.

Apprenticeships: The Answer to Your Organization’s Latest and Greatest Emerging Risk

Apprenticeships: The Answer to Your Organization’s Latest and Greatest Emerging Risk

Speed of innovation, increasing regulations, and the pace of digitalization all remain as top risks facing organizations. But what is the latest and greatest emerging risk to enter the board room that is here to stay? Staff shortages.

That’s right – you read this correctly. The top emerging risk facing organizations isn’t responding to cybersecurity threats, or addressing GDPR – it’s the talent gap.

The Talent Gap Is the New Top Risk   

According to Gartner, Inc.’s latest Emerging Risks Survey, global talent shortages now top the charts as the greatest emerging risk facing organizations today after surveying  137 senior executives in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Many leaders find themselves at a crossroad where they need to shift away from traditional external hiring strategies, and consider internal training efforts to mitigate supply and demand issues.

Apprenticeship Programs Offer a Risk Mitigation Strategy   

In Gartner’s press release about the survey, Matt Shinkman, Managing Vice President and Risk Practice Leader, stated that “a common denominator here is that addressing these top business challenges involves hiring new talent that is in incredibly short supply.”

But, what if you had the ability to train and retain your own ideal workforce?

Apprenticeship programs offer an alternative solution to the growing talent crisis. Apprentices can create a high-value alternative for employers to:

  • Attract the best employees
  • Reduce turnover
  • Decrease training costs
  • Increase productivity
  • Ensure availability of skilled professionals
  • Improve community and employee relations

Partnering to Reduce Risk and Build Your Talent Pipeline

The talent gap is a national crisis that threatens America’s competitive edge. Franklin Apprenticeships is a consulting firm that partners with businesses and economic and workforce development agencies to offer custom learning programs that solve workforce supply issues.

Founded by professionals in the U.S. and U.K., the Franklin Apprenticeships team is passionate about applying the timeless practice of apprenticeships to create new training and retention solutions for employers.

For instance, Franklin Apprenticeships is currently working with the State of Missouri, the State of Maryland, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on new apprenticeship programs to close the IT talent gap for employers – Missouri Digital and Franklin Digital. Missouri has also released AutoMOtive!, a program focused on developing Automotive Service Technician talent. 

With each program, the States offer tax benefits or subsidies to lighten the costs of training and services so employers can focus on growth without the worry of recruitment, training, and program development costs – a win-win situation for all involved.

Discover how our apprenticeships can benefit your organization by visiting each program’s dedicated web page: AutoMOtive!, Franklin Digital, and Missouri Digital.

Build vs. Buy: Solving the Cyber Talent Shortage, Today

Build vs. Buy: Solving the Cyber Talent Shortage, Today

Cybersecurity Ventures says the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million by 2021. Yet,  CSO’s Top 5 cybersecurity facts, figures and statistics for 2018 paint a more dire picture:

Since every IT position is responsible for protecting and defending data, apps, devices, infrastructure, and people – every IT position is also, to a degree, a cybersecurity position.

 That explains why the cybersecurity unemployment rate today has dropped to zero percent.  The actual workforce shortage represents an even greater supply and demand dilemma.

How are employers coping with this critical cyber skills shortage?  The ability to attract and retain the best and brightest is a constant, costly battle. Recruitment teams are poaching talent by sweetening salary and benefit packages. But, increasing employment costs is not a sustainable solution. Especially for companies who are losing talent to larger competitors.  And, as the talent pool continues to decline, the ability to dip in and not come up empty will become more difficult.  No matter how much money you throw at it.

So, one may question: What about new talent in the pipeline?  The next generation of cyber talent is almost ready to enter the workplace. Shouldn’t the numbers improve? The answer is: Not likely.  We are facing a shortage of skilled labor PLUS a shortage of skilled educators.  Most current education, training, and certification programs are not producing qualified, job-ready candidates.  Given the growing number and sophistication of attacks, this comes as no surprise. Cyber education requires a deep, hands-on, in the trenches approach to learning to produce qualified cybersecurity professionals.

The cyber industry needs a new recruitment, education, and training strategy. A strategy that can keep pace with the industry’s complex skill requirements.  A strategy that can also attract more talent to the field and supply qualified cybersecurity professionals.

Apprenticeships – A Perfect Solution

Apprenticeships offer a perfect solution.  In the UK, standards for cyber apprenticeship programs are opening possibilities. The programs broaden entry-level routes into the profession and develop new career pathways. This opens the door to a new genre of talent – individuals who may not have considered cyber as an option.  It also opens the talent pool for employers.  And, it moves individuals- even those with low or no skills – up to full competency in 12-18 months.

The move in the US towards modern apprenticeship programs is behind other countries.  But, initiatives have been underway in both the former and current Administration.  Fortunately, apprenticeship programs have managed to maintain ongoing bipartisan support. Last year, President Trump issued an Executive Order for “Expanding Apprenticeships in America.” A special Task  Force on Apprenticeship expansion filed their final recommendations. Cybersecurity, of course, was a sector covered in the Task Force report.

A 21st-century apprenticeship approach aligns cyber workforce training and education with employer requirements.  It rejuvenates training and recruitment methods. It builds teams of dedicated employees mentored to succeed (among other things).  The task force report recommendations offer inspiration and hope for change.  But, change takes time.

Do US employers have the luxury of time to wait for our government or educational systems to catch up? US employers who focus today on tomorrow’s workforce can begin to build it, rather than continuing to buy it. After all, the law of supply and demand is not working out in anyone’s favor as it relates to qualified cybersecurity professionals.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

 ― Benjamin Franklin

Interested in learning more about our digital apprenticeship programs, or becoming a partner? Contact us.

 

Where Have All the Women Gone?

Where Have All the Women Gone?

How Apprenticeships Help the IT Industry Attract and Retain Female Talent

For a growing number of women, the tech industry is losing its charm – even though it is one of the highest paying growth industries in America.  More than half the US workforce is women, but only 20% of tech jobs are held by women. And, that number continues to decline. How can the IT industry attract and retain female talent?

Why do we have this growing gender gap? A recent smallbiztrends.com infographic offers insight into the question: Where have all the women gone?

Experts believe that women participate in growth industries when career opportunities & personal interests, economic security & advancement, and financial compensation align. Let’s explore, briefly:

  • Career Opportunities/Personal Interest:

Several factors prevent women from pursuing a tech career. Eleven-year-old girls, once interested in tech careers, soon lose interest.  Experts say lack of female mentors and gender inequality are partially to blame.  And, perhaps unintentionally, many tech companies exercise gender bias and foster a culture that fails to encourage women to consider a career in tech.

  • Economic Security/Advancement:

 NCWIT’s 2016 report on Women in Tech found women are twice as likely to quit their jobs in the high-tech industry. Data suggests that women in the technology industry face more issues of gender inequality compared to the overall population of women in the workforce (and even compared to women who simply work in the technology industry, but who work in non-technical roles such as sales, PR, marketing, and finance, for example).”

  • Financial compensation:

Women who pursue high-paying IT jobs earn less than men. In the United States, women in computer, engineering, and science occupations were paid an estimated 79.2% of men’s annual median earnings in 2016.

Apprenticeships – A Solution Armed to Answer Crititcal US Workforce Issues

As discussed in our post The Growing Technological Skills Gap in the Wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the global shortage in IT talent has jumped from seventh to second position, with nearly 600,000 IT openings in the US alone. As technological disruption advances, this gap will continue to widen. Yet, given that women today hold a lower share of IT positions than they did in 1980, how can IT companies work to attract and retain female talent to help fill the gap? One approach is to address workforce gender diversity issues and increase the number of women willing, interested, and able to enter the industry.

Apprenticeship programs are built to tackle all issues concerning women’s attraction to the IT industry. Yet, recent studies indicate that US apprenticeship programs, overall, lack diversity. While companies often point to diversity as a goal of the programs, the overall picture shows that women make up a small share of apprentices nationwide (7.3% in 2017). And, sadly, studies also indicate that wage discrimination is bleeding into the white-collar apprenticeship market. Females and African Americans are earning less than their peers, and female apprentices in male-dominated professions (such as IT) are being paid less.

Modernized apprenticeship programs represent a tremendous opportunity for the US to alter years of workforce challenges – challenges that erode our country’s ability to compete globally.   We must strive to eradicate inequality in recruitment, compensation, and advancement, and prevent it from bleeding into the US IT apprenticeship model.   Apprenticeship programs must maintain race and gender-neutrality. Recruitment, training, and wage progression models must remain consistent for all cohorts.  Awareness programs supported by educators, employers, and communities must work together to educate young women on the professional values and opportunities the industry offers in a language that makes these jobs appealing to women.

Apprenticeships Help the IT Industry Attract and Retain Female Talent

In an effort to inspire women to achieve their career aspirations and potential at all levels and disciplines within the IT industry, we have developed The Franklin Apprenticeships IT Academy for Women. Employment and gender gaps can be filled by establishing apprenticeship programs serving women who are:

  • Unable to afford secondary education
  • Unconventional learners or school leavers
  • Stuck in dead-end jobs
  • Saddled with college debt, but left with no job prospects
  • Re-entering the job market (Returnees, Veterans, etc.)

And, the 4th Industrial Revolution – because it allows for workers with little or no college education –represents new opportunities for all women. This includes the minority, disadvantaged, and low-skilled female jobseekers.  Together, we can:

  • Educate disadvantaged female cohorts about IT Apprenticeship opportunities
  • Make the transition to IT jobs possible for those whom the educational system has failed
  • Mentor female cohorts with clear paths to equal upward mobility and equal economic mobility

By focusing on an IT apprenticeship initiative specifically for women, we can build employer awareness of apprenticeship programs to:

  • Attract, train, and retain talent
  • Address diversity imbalances
  • Create a future workforce
  • Strengthen the economy
  • Preserve and protect our nation’s competitive position

A long time has passed and yet interests have only moved in one direction: down.  Let’s bring back the charm for women in IT.

Want to find out more about The Franklin Apprenticeships IT Academy for Women, become part of the movement, or learn about how to launch digital apprenticeships programs in your company?  Contact us, here.

 

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage – A Solution for Financial Services and Insurance

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage – A Solution for Financial Services and Insurance

This US industry is prime for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement!

Cybersecurity, one of the fastest growing job skills of the new economy, is also one that holds the fastest growing skills gap. For the financial services and insurance industry –the largest spenders and consumers of cybersecurity technology next to government – the cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant.

The latest report from CyberSeek shows an estimated 285,681 job openings today. Every year, 40,000 information security jobs remain unfulfilled in the US. US employers also report a current deficit of over 200,000 “other security-related” roles.

The numbers get even more alarming. By 2021, Cybersecurity Jobs Report forecasts that the worldwide deficit of qualified cybersecurity professionals will reach 3.5 million. The cybersecurity talent shortage threat is significant globally.

What are the reactions from Financial Services and Insurance leaders? A recent McAfee report, Hacking the Skills Shortage: A focus on the cybersecurity skills shortage in Financial Services and Insurance reveal:

  • 82% of respondents report a shortage of cybersecurity skills
  • 71% of respondents attest that cybersecurity shortages leave companies vulnerable to hacking targets, reputation, and data loss
  • 53% of respondents say the cybersecurity skills shortage is their worst IT talent deficit
  • 50% of respondents believe a bachelor’ degree is required for field entry, even though few universities and colleges have cybersecurity concentrations
  • 76% of respondents feel government is not sufficiently investing in helping to develop cybersecurity talent

Why should US Financial Services and Insurance companies be primed for a cybersecurity apprenticeship movement?

  • Education and training investments are not optimized to suit how cybersecurity skills are best learned and applied. Apprenticeship programs create hands-on, multi dimensional learning environments.
  • Cybercrime is an evolving industry that grows in scale and sophistication. Traditional academic curriculum can’t prepare for what may have happened last week, nor predict what might happen next month. Apprenticeship programs create a learning culture that is real-time.
  • Competition for and scarcity of skilled labor causes wages to rise, and loyalties to shrink- especially in this industry.  Apprenticeships programs offer pathways to growth that balance skill development with increased earning potential. These standards increase retention and inspire loyalty.

Still, US apprenticeship programs remain scarce – despite proven results of program effectiveness in other countries. 21st century US apprenticeship programs in new skill areas (such as those relating to IT and cyber) are theoretically endorsed, politically supported, and conceptually embraced. Yet, overall US employer adoption is slow to take hold.

Build it, and they will come.  Companies need to collectively commit to advancing an apprenticeship movement.  As an industry at peak risk for cyber crime, US financial services and insurance companies should challenge their traditional recruitment and education paradigms.  Apprenticeships, as a strategic focus, can help to solve our nation’s growing cybersecurity talent shortage. And that, my FSI friends, results in a win/win for all concerned.

Congressional Bill Announcement: The CHANCE in Tech Act

Congressional Bill Announcement: The CHANCE in Tech Act

America Is Getting Proactive About IT Apprenticeships

On September 10, 2017, a new Congressional bill was introduced in Senate, and this one has us really excited!

S. 1518: “To direct the Secretary of Labor to enter into contracts with industry intermediaries for purposes of promoting the development of and access to apprenticeships in the technology sector, and for other purposes,” was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

We all should be excited about its fruition, as it will work to help modernize American IT apprenticeships.

Coined the “ CHANCE in Technology Act” – which is short for the “Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology Act” – this bill gets right to the heart of the core issues we American’s face regarding skilled labor shortages suffered today¬– and forecasted for future – in the IT industry.

Rather than attempting to paraphrase the Congressional Findings, I am directly citing them, below. The findings are solid with facts that speak volumes.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:

(1) During any given 90-day period there can be more than 500,000 information technology job openings in the United States.

(2) Employment in the technology sector is growing twice as fast as employment in the United States.

(3) Jobs in the technology sector tend to provide higher pay and better benefits than other jobs and have been more resilient to economic downturn than jobs available in other private sector industries.

(4) Information technology skills are transferable across nearly all industries.

(5) Exceptional education and on-the-job training programs exist and should be scaled to meet the demands of the modern technology workforce.

(6) Adoption of existing employer-driven intermediary models, such as ApprenticeshipUSA under the Department of Labor, will help grow the information technology workforce.

(7) Career pathway education should start in high school through pathways and programs of study that align with local and regional employer needs.

(8) Preparing a student for a job in the technology sector is essential to the growth and competitiveness of the economy in the United States in the 21st century.

(9) Nearly 800,000 information technology workers will retire between 2017 and 2024.

(10) In 2016, the average salary in the information technology sector was $108,000, while the average salary among all other sectors was $53,040.

We have shared our insights on the need for IT apprenticeships as it relates to the pending 4th Industrial Revolution. This is a Revolution, much like those before, that is critical to our country. Just as in previous Revolutions, we are encountering a critical shift to keep pace with job skills. Some will completely go away, and others   do not even exist, yet. It is an exciting time, but one that must be met with action.

We have also provided a two-part case study that outlines how Microsoft UK has leveraged apprenticeships to help solve their skilled labor shortages. There is much we can learn from countries who are further along the path with these programs.

Progress can take time, but there are ways to fast-track apprenticeship adoption.

It is time for America to pick up the pace and prioritize Apprenticeship programs. And, the CHANCE in Tech Act represents a movement in that direction. The bill addresses our ability to remain competitive as a nation, accelerates our adoption of shifting trends as they unfold, and allows for economic success in our communities.

If you want to learn more about the emergence of the 21st century IT apprentice, contact us, here.

The Growing Technological Skills Gap in the Wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Growing Technological Skills Gap in the Wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Are Apprenticeships an Answer?

We have faced three industrial revolutions, and, according to the World Economic Forum, a Fourth Industrial Revolution is imminent. On the coat tails of the Third Industrial Revolution of 1969, which brought us mass production, this next phase is a technological revolution, described as “the advent of ‘cyber-physical systems’ involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines.”

Ushering in this evolution are exciting transformational technologies – artificial intelligence, the ‘Internet of Things’, Big Data, 3D printing – some of which we have already begun to embrace, and others we have yet to fully realize or comprehend.

But with massive labor shortages in critical IT areas, educational systems that have fallen behind the rest of the world, and corporations that have slashed training budgets, are 21st century companies in the US really prepared for this coming revolution?

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution explores the profoundly shifting landscape. Transformative technologies, creating major disruption to traditional business models, will have “a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labor productivity to widening skills gaps.”

So how can the IT industry – paradoxically at the forefront of digital disruption, yet struggling to fill vital roles in emerging technologies – keep up?

According to The Manpower Group’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey, the global shortage in IT talent has jumped from seventh to second position, with nearly 600,000 IT openings in the US alone. And, as technological disruption advances, this gap will continue to widen.

One fundamental change necessary to close the widening talent gap is the modernization of an apprenticeship system.  The apprenticeship workforce model — developed following the first industrial revolution — successfully altered attitudes toward training for the most formative industries of that era.   And, it can serve the same purpose, today.

Modernization of the apprenticeship model involves, first and foremost, adjusting perceptions about how we recruit, train, and advance our workers for today, and the future. Progressive IT companies are already thinking and acting differently to reinvent staffing and training practices. Industry leaders are retooling training budgets to accommodate apprenticeship programs, and working directly with secondary educators to develop real-life accredited on the job course curriculums as a proactive means to widen their talent pool.

As we learned from our second and third industrial revolution predecessors, a well-planned and executed apprenticeship program is an opportunity to discover talent in hidden pockets, reduce recruitment costs, and retain teams of loyal employees.  Apprenticeships represented an earn-while-you-learn model that worked to bolster one revolution, and could be the answer to supporting the next one.

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Join the movement. Learn how your company can prepare for the coming revolution. Contact Franklin Apprenticeships.

Case Study Interview Part 2: Franklin Apprenticeships: Microsoft UK Tackles Its Skilled Labor Shortages with Apprenticeships

Case Study Interview Part 2: Franklin Apprenticeships: Microsoft UK Tackles Its Skilled Labor Shortages with Apprenticeships

What are the Opportunities for the US to Follow Suit?

Company:

Microsoft UK

Challenge:

A shortage of skilled talent for Microsoft’s Partner Channel Network

Solution:

Attract, mentor, and retain aspiring young IT professionals to build critical career skills through real-life, applied knowledge workforce training programs as apprentices.

Impact:

  • Over 7,500 apprentices started their career through this route in over 5,000 employers since the program was rolled out nationally in 2010.
  • Current hits are > 3,500 apprentice starts per year
  • 92% of apprentices stay with the company with which they started their apprenticeship

Goal:

Microsoft UK’s goal is for the program to become the established, alternative route to university for young people entering a career in IT working with Microsoft technologies.

In Part 1 of our interview, we spoke with Dominic Gill, co-founder of Franklin Apprenticeships, about his work with Microsoft UK’s apprenticeship program, which helped solve the skilled labor shortage for their channel partners.

In Part 2 of the interview, we will discuss with Kim Nichols, CEO of Franklin Apprenticeships, the state of affairs in the US What does the success of programs –  such as Microsoft UK’s – represent to the long-standing ambition for increased apprenticeship program adoption in America?

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JA Communications: Kim, can you give us some insight into the current state of affairs here in the US? What opportunities exist to offer programs like this to our young adults?

Kim: Sure. The skills shortage problem is virtually the same in the US as it is in the UK – especially in the tech industry. And delivering apprenticeship programs is a way we can expand that talent pool and begin to fill the open jobs. The US has a significant skills gap when it comes to filling IT jobs. Experts estimate that there will be 1.8 million unfilled positions in 2022. The main reason these positions go unfilled is simply that candidates lack the technical skills, experience, and soft skills that employers are looking for.

So, this means that employers need to get creative about how to attract future professionals and the Millennial generation. To break this down a bit further, there are currently over 600,000 open computing jobs across the country, but only 43,000 computer science students graduated last year. By 2018, 51% of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields.

The Federal government alone needs an additional 10,000 IT and cyber security professionals. And the private sector needs many more. In this world of constant tech innovation, there are jobs emerging that didn’t even exist a decade ago – roles such as a data scientist, for example.

JA Communications: Those are significant, almost alarming, numbers.

Yes, and they are growing, rapidly. We have to keep up with our ever-changing, digitally-driven workplace. And apprenticeship programs provide the flexibility to bring the most relevant curriculum to young adults with the right attitude, aptitude, and intelligence to be successful, as Dom mentioned earlier.

And every industry needs IT apprenticeship opportunities. Not only technology companies, but also healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, and professional services – to address the IT skills gap and build a pipeline of skilled workers. Here in the US, we need to better prepare our young people for IT careers and provide clear pathways for them to learn the industry specific IT skills they need to be successful.

JA Communications: As you and Dom mentioned, the UK is clearly ahead of the US at this point. How much awareness is there about the benefit of these programs here in the US? And what steps can employers take to start their own registered apprenticeship programs?

Kim: Interest in apprenticeship models is gradually building in the United States, partly because of the recent successes in the UK, but also due to some initiatives here in the US – particularly in South Carolina – in stimulating major expansions of apprenticeship training. A robust apprenticeship system is especially attractive because of its potential to reduce youth unemployment, improve the transition from school to career, upgrade skills, raise wages for young adults, increase the US productivity, and achieve positive returns for both employers and workers.

At Franklin, we’ve been talking with many employers across the country about apprenticeship programs as a solution to their workforce issues. We have repeatedly heard employers express their difficulties finding people with the right skills to meet their needs. The number of days job vacancies are remaining open is increasing, which is costing companies a significant amount of money each day in lost profits.

Many employers also have an aging workforce that will need to be replaced in the next five to ten years. Yet, they don’t have an adequately skilled pipeline of workers ready to take over those jobs. On top of that, the impact of emerging technologies is quickly outpacing expertise.

JA Communications: One would assume that companies are well aware of this issue, and are putting plans in place to address these challenges.  So, why aren’t there more programs such as Microsoft’s here in the US?

Most employers recognize the importance of recruiting and developing talent, but still depend on outdated approaches for finding people, developing existing employees’ skills, and improving their performances. So employers agree that apprenticeships can be a solution to their workforce development issues,

But working to identify the competencies and training paths required to get the desired outcomes usually falls under the domain of HR and corporate training departments –  departments that are often saddled with budget and resource constraints.

Overall, we find that most companies are overwhelmed by the process of developing and implementing a registered apprenticeship program. However, it doesn’t have to be so difficult.  It’s really about solving a business issue, (like the approach Microsoft took) and understanding the skills the employers need for entry-level positions. Once competencies and outcomes are identified by the employer, a training provider intermediary builds out the program, delivers the training, assesses the apprentices, manages the regulatory requirements, and recruits apprentice candidates.

Training provider intermediaries can be either community colleges or private training providers. The majority of employers are looking to training providers who can offer turnkey apprenticeship solutions that take the pain away from delivering and administering the programs, while making sure they meet the desired outcomes. So, employers work very closely with the training providers to deliver a successful apprenticeship program.

JA Communications: That’s very interesting. Obviously, there’s a little bit of a process to put something like this together. Can you talk a little bit about what a typical program looks like?

Kim: Sure. A typical apprenticeship program includes the employer (of course), the training provider, and the apprentices. These are the three prongs. The actual apprenticeship program includes an individual learning plan with milestones for each apprentice. It includes a training plan that is competency-based. It includes an engagement and recruitment plan that’s used to attract and engage apprentices. And it also includes a marketing and communications strategy with a solid social media and public relations focus to help increase the awareness of apprenticeship opportunities. Within the apprenticeship program, training is also provided for the employer staff that works to support the apprentice, the various mentors that are used in the program, as well as the success coaches.

JA Communications: What can we learn from the UK success, and how can it be applied into the US markets?

Franklin Apprenticeships has been leveraging the lessons learned from the UK by accessing program content that has been developed and modified for US companies. We are also utilizing processes and procedures regarding the execution. This helps employers and training providers execute, fast-track, and scale apprenticeship programs throughout US. Using the expertise of these UK professionals streamlines the program development and execution for employers in the US. So, it’s a great way to fast-track these programs, develop further data to benchmark and monitor program standards, and build out more competencies, as needed. It is an exciting time, and the opportunity is tremendous.  We’re right at the tipping point that will rejuvenate the age-old practice of apprenticeships – one that helped to build the American dream.  In simple terms: It is an incredibly practical approach.

JA Communications: Well, the Microsoft model looks to have a lot of promise for us in the US. I want to thank you, Kim, and Dom, for joining us today. It sounds like there are a lot of opportunities for employers and employees on both sides of the pond to benefit as these programs continue to take hold.

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To learn more about the Microsoft partner apprenticeship program in the UK and learn more about Franklin Apprenticeships and current US initiatives,  contact Dom or Kim.