Blog Post: Fans of IBM zSystems Hub

Event: IBM Z ® Apprenticeships for the Military Community

Event: IBM Z ® Apprenticeships for the Military Community

This is an excerpt of blog published on the Fans of IBM zSystems Hub to promote a Franklin event that IBM is sponsoring for the Military Community on June 29, 2022, at 12:30 EST. Register for the event here. 

By: Tim Fry, Success Coach and Military Community Outreach Manager, Franklin Apprenticeships

“As a 17-year combat veteran of the United States Airforce, I speak from firsthand experience when I say that the transition from the military to civilian life is one of the toughest challenges that men and women who serve our country will ever face.

The career paths in the military don’t always neatly translate to civilian life and the idea of starting over and learning a new field or pursuing a college degree can be daunting. For military dependents and spouses, it’s equally challenging. Unfortunately, many employers don’t want to hire someone who is going to be relocated every few years or who has the pressure of family commitments due to military deployments.

Over the past 18-months of being involved in the IBM Z® US Apprenticeship Accelerator program as part of the delivery team at Franklin Apprenticeships, I’ve had the opportunity to coach and support dozens of members of the military community – from veterans, transitioning service members and reservists to military spouses and dependents. In fact, one in five of the students that have been hired into IBM Z Apprenticeships are veterans. They have used the IBM Z Apprenticeship program to translate their military-learned skills and excel in a civilian career, while earning certifications.”

Read more on the Fans of IBM zSystems Hub. 

Register for the event here.

Funding from the State of Pennsylvania

Franklin Awarded $520K To Expand Tech Apprenticeships in PA

Franklin Awarded $520K To Expand Tech Apprenticeships in PA

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently announced awards totaling more than $11 million for 26 apprenticeship programs, including Franklin Apprenticeships which will receive $520,000 to deliver technology pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to employers and residents of the state.

The grants are part of Governor Wolf’s PA Statewide Movement for Accountability, Readiness and Training (PAsmart) framework, which is “designed to better align education, workforce and economic development initiatives and funding,” according to the Governor’s website.

“We applaud the State of Pennsylvania for making this significant, strategic investment in building its tech workforce by helping people with no formal experience in technology transition to well-paid, high-demand roles in the state,” Kim Nichols, CEO and Founder of Franklin Apprenticeships explains. “Our team at Franklin is thrilled to build on the work we are already doing in the state, and expand access to our apprenticeship programs for employers and tech career seekers.”

Franklin’s Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Programs currently include: IBM Z, Software Engineering, Network Engineering, Cybersecurity and Helpdesk. There is an accelerating demand from employers for Franklin’s job ready, pre-apprentice graduates as many companies are increasingly leveraging apprenticeships as a tool for building their own pipeline of tech talent given the high-demand for people with these skills.

“Throughout history, apprenticeships have been a vital and necessary part of career education in certain fields,” Gov. Wolf said in the press announcement. “By expanding these important programs to more occupations and industries, we are offering Pennsylvania workers opportunities to train for family-sustaining jobs while helping businesses develop a workforce that will strengthen our economy and our communities.”

Grant Details: Franklin Apprenticeships | $520,000

Tech Talent for PA

Franklin Apprenticeships will establish and enroll participants into non-traditional, competency-based registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships using a non-traditional service delivery process. The proposed Franklin statewide program will prioritize 240 new pre-apprenticeships and 40 apprenticeships expanding into non-traditional occupations parallel to the growing workforce-need within the IT sector. The program has a special focus on prioritizing the recruitment of diverse populations and historically underserved participants (including minorities, low-income populations and women).

Franklin Apprenticeships will establish and enroll participants into non-traditional, competency-based registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships using a non-traditional service delivery process. 

Interested in Getting Involved?

  • Career Seekers in Pennsylvania: Explore Franklin’s Pre-Apprenticeship Programs which currently include: IBM Z, Software Engineering, Network Engineering, Cybersecurity and Helpdesk.
  • Employers in Pennsylvania: Ready to start a tech apprenticeship program to build your talent pipeline? Franklin will make it easy to get started. Get in touch at

Modernizing the mainframe for the digital era

Franklin Apprenticeships featured in CIO Magazine

Franklin Apprenticeships featured in CIO Magazine

This article explores the long-term future of IBM Z Mainframe and takes a detailed look at how M&T Bank is using the platform. It also mentions the IBM Z Apprenticeship Program, which is delivered by Franklin Apprenticeships.

“Farther north, M&T Bank launched in November 2020 its Z Development Program (ZDP) Mainframe Apprenticeship, a training and internship program that recruits participants from non-traditional backgrounds and underserved communities, particularly Black and Latinx people, as well as women and veterans in the Buffalo area. The goal is to develop entry-level application developers and systems administrators with the skills to work with IBM Z systems. The program is a collaborative effort that draws on the support of IBM, Franklin Apprenticeships, and the Urban Institute.”

Read more online at

Press Release

Franklin adds senior hires to leadership team

Franklin adds senior hires to leadership team

Franklin Apprenticeships expands corporate learning and development expertise with Senior Operations and Marketing hires

“Franklin Apprenticeships, the professional apprenticeship experts, today announced two senior hires that expand the company’s learning and development expertise to support further growth. Franklin has appointed Helen Smyth as Vice President of Operations and Mikki Draggoo as Vice President of Marketing.”

Read here:


Sharing Insight from the U.S. and U.K.

Exploring Age Diversity In Apprenticeships

Exploring Age Diversity In Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships provide an excellent opportunity for individuals of all ages to explore new careers through an alternative path. Individuals who seek a new career path may lack the time and resources to pursue a college degree as a full-time or even part-time student due to familial and financial responsibilities. Apprenticeship programs that offer an “earn while you learn” approach helps apprentices avoid taking on debt but still gain the necessary skills to pursue their dream career.

Franklin Apprenticeships and the City & Guilds Group recently hosted a roundtable with both apprentices and employers from the U. S. and U.K. who are committed to breaking generational barriers.

Apprentices offered excellent insight from their experiences with generational differences in their apprenticeship programs, while employers explained the benefits of an age-diverse apprenticeship program.

Sharing Insight from the U.S. and U.K.

Building Gender Diversity through Apprenticeships

Building Gender Diversity through Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity to build gender diversity in a company’s early career pipeline. By providing a route to professional careers that does not rely on a degree, earn-and-learn apprenticeship programs are more accessible to people from all walks of life – and can be a powerful way for a company to improve gender diversity.

Franklin Apprenticeships and the City & Guilds Group recently hosted a round table with top apprenticeship employers in the U.S. and U.K. exploring how they have built gender diversity through their apprenticeship programs.

The participants included representatives from Siemens, T-Mobile, NatWest and The Urban Institute. They offered excellent insight into how to not only recruit apprentices to improve gender diversity within a team, but how to make sure they grow and develop their careers within your company.

Check out our highlight reel from the event and our infographic of five ideas we learned to attract and retain gender diverse apprentices. For a full event run-down, read more on City & Guilds’ website.

Meet Kim Nichols - A Leader And A Role Model For New Career Possibilities

Franklin Apprenticeships featured in Forbes Magazine

Franklin Apprenticeships featured in Forbes Magazine

“This week marks National Apprenticeship week, and there is no better time to introduce the instructive example of Kim Nichols. She entered the world of apprenticeships the hard way—she created her own. After an orthodox education in accounting and business administration, she moved on to a successful corporate and consulting career. However, parallel volunteer work as a board member of the charity The Children’s Guild led to her going on a fact-finding mission to the UK on apprenticeships. Impressed by what she saw, she arranged a six-month sabbatical to work with London collaborators on how apprenticeships could be revitalized and expanded in the US.

She asked, how could “the ancient solution” of apprenticeships help address “our 21st century problem” to prepare workers for a fast-changing world?”

Read more online in Forbes Careers.

By Kim Nichols, CEO, Franklin Apprenticeships

National Apprenticeship Week 2021

National Apprenticeship Week 2021

National Apprenticeship Week Logo 2021

Next week is one of my favorite weeks of the year because it is all about apprenticeships! National Apprenticeship Week runs November 15 – 21 and is all about raising awareness and celebrating the achievements of apprentices across the country.

I am so passionate about apprenticeships because they are a tried-and-tested solution to the pervasive and growing challenge of how to recruit and train people for technical careers.

They give people from all walks of life a path to learn new skills and grow their careers within companies that desperately need diverse tech talent. Instead of going into debt for a degree, apprentices get paid a good wage throughout the program as they train and build job experience at the same time.

There are millions of capable, bright, eager individuals out there with a strong aptitude for tech careers who simply don’t have the time or money to commit to a four-year tech degree. Importantly, colleges are simply not producing enough qualified people to meet employer demand. College Factual estimates there were only 53,000 computer science graduates last year; compare that to 360,000 tech job openings listed by employers in October 2021 alone, according to Burning Glass Technologies.

We can proudly say after an apprenticeship with Franklin, 100% of our graduates are fully competent in their job roles. And 94% of Franklin apprentices stay employed with their current companies – frequently being promoted within the first few years.

That brings me back to National Apprenticeship Week and why it is important. Despite the proven benefits, there are currently fewer than 3,000 active apprentices in the tech sector according to the Department of Labor.

National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic opportunity to build awareness of apprenticeships. Throughout the week, there are tons of opportunities to get involved; I’ve listed my top three below.

Together we can raise awareness of apprenticeships and hopefully take a big step forward in establishing apprenticeships as a go-to option for technical skills training making the American dream more accessible to more people.


1) Join an event

Take a look at the National Apprenticeship Week website to see all the fantastic events and promotional activities that are planned.

Franklin is hosting two events, including an Apprenticeship Info Session for Veterans and a Round Table for employers, Building Gender Diversity Through Apprenticeships.

2) Promote apprenticeships on your social media channels

Share articles and blogs (like this one!) on your social channels to help build awareness of apprenticeships across your networks. Make sure you follow us to get the latest updates on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter.

3) Explore apprenticeship opportunities for yourself, friends or family

Franklin currently offers apprenticeships in six occupations including: Cybersecurity Analyst; IBM Z ® Mainframe App Developer; IBM Z ® Mainframe Systems Administrator; Helpdesk Technician; Network Engineer and Software Engineer.

If tech isn’t your path, there are tons of additional occupations available – take a look at for more information.

The Role of Trade Unions in the US Apprenticeship Arena

The Role of Trade Unions in the US Apprenticeship Arena

An Interview with Dr. John Gaal, Director of Training & Workforce Development, STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council

You run apprenticeship programs in the states. What is the role of trade unions in delivering high quality programs?

I have served as the Director of Training & Workforce Development for the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council since 2003. As such, I superintend nine training schools in three Midwest states: MO, KS, and IL. These locations serve >15 post-secondary registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) mainly covering carpentry, cabinetmaking, millwright, and floor laying occupations.

Trade unions in the US play a vital role in some of the most effective and efficient RAPs overseen by the United States Department of Labor’s (US-DOL) Office of Apprenticeship (OA). To be clear, these RAPs are not union-run programs! Back in 1947, Congress (Taft-Hartley Act) changed national labor laws to ensure that both labor and management had an equal voice at the board table. Although the Fitzgerald Act of 1937 serves as the basis for RAPs today, known as 29CFR29, joint apprenticeship programs (JAPs) are usually set up as trust funds under the aforementioned change in 1947. This is a key factor as to why these JAPs’ committees produce the best results when it comes to graduation rates and total compensation. Why? Because the JAP committee—made up of both labor and management representatives—is obliged to make decisions in the best interest of the industry on behalf of the apprentice!

Unions also play another important role. It is by means of a legal contract that both labor and management agree to terms and conditions of an hourly contribution for training purposes. The contract, in effect, becomes the collection vehicle for the employee/member benefit—known as training—which is administered by the trust fund mentioned above. More often than not, in the US construction industry, apprentices are indentured to the JAP…not a single contractor. This multi-employer model allows apprentices to work for any signatory contractor which, in turn, provides for a wide range of OJT learning opportunities. Therefore, when it comes to JAPs, the notion of “poaching” is virtually non-existent! (In the St. Louis area alone, more than $30m is “privately” invested annually into the +15 JAPs.) While, on the other hand, typically in the non-union arena, poaching remains a big issue as well as the quality of training most likely due to a lack of a trusted intermediary and willing partners (competitors). 

What do you think of the claim made by some that the trade unions can sometimes block progress?  

As with most any organization or issue, there are often good and bad characters impacting outcomes. In the US, nearly 70% of the registered apprentices are in the construction industry—of which, approximately 80% of those are in joint labor-management affiliated JAPs, as noted above. It is unfortunate that when so many people in the US hear the word “apprenticeship”, one of two things comes to mind: unions or construction. Growing RAPs in the US will require the US mindset to move beyond those paradigms…it does not have to be either! Nonetheless, construction-related union-affiliated JAPs are often held up as the model for RAPs in the US. In St. Louis alone, the Carpenters JAP provides nearly 150 career days, etc. annually at regional K-12 schools and other community gatherings. Due to global competition, most unions realize that in order to survive they need to grow their programs and expand their intake processes. This includes becoming more inclusive with regards to recruiting and retaining people of color, women ex-offenders, veterans, and people with disabilities. Nearly all these unions have recognized that their jointly trusted JAPs are their competitive advantage going forward and need to leverage it accordingly!

Interestingly, the JAPs receive very little to no federal funding to operate their JAPs. (In the interest of full disclosure, less than 5% of the Carpenters JAP’s budget in St. Louis is made up by the federal government.) Yet, companies looking to expand into the RAP ranks are being enticed by seed money from federal grants. Eventually, these funds will run out! Hopefully, US-DOL’s OA has a plan in place to ensure sustainability of these new RAPs. As a union representative and a trustee of the St. Louis JAP, I am concerned about this most important issue…some may view this as “blocking” progress. I prefer to consider it as being a good steward of the taxpayers’ funds. 

Do you have any advice for companies thinking of expanding their business in the USA? 

Without a doubt, I am a huge fan of the Apprenticeship 2000 (A2000) model in Charlotte, NC. Other than in the US constructions trades’ JAPs, the European influence of apprenticeship has been around since the mid-1990s. As noted above, intermediaries are integral to the growth of RAPs in the US. The difficult piece will be the time spent developing better relationships within non-traditional and emerging industries. For without trust, the JAP (or intermediary) model will not be sustainable. In my opinion, it is in the best interest of all industry stakeholders (i.e., companies, workers, training & education providers, and communities) to examine the pros and cons of a program like A2000. Upon investigation, they will find that German and Austrian advanced manufacturing firms operating in the US set aside their competitive differences in order to pool their talents and address the skills shortage issues in their area.

With that said, I think the best place to begin these discussions is within the K-12 school system. Far too often, in the US, the growth of RAPs is only viewed from the horizontal approach (i.e., expanding into other sectors like Health Care, etc.). In order to double the number of apprentices by 2019 this myopic approach simply will not work. We must embrace the concept of vertical growth as well! To this end, students in the upper-secondary grades are a ripe and captive audience for firms and industries as evidenced by the A2000 model…especially in light of the college debt crisis that looms in the US economy.

Finally, do you have any goal you’d like to achieve by the end of 2017?                   

I have a few goals I am working on concurrently:

Linking the RAPs with college/university pathways: Parents play a big role in steering their children towards post-secondary options. For the past +35 years too many US parents have embedded the notion that a college degree is the ticket to the middle class. This myth was dispelled after the 2007 Great Recession began. The idea of graduating apprentices four years after high school who earn +$35/hour and hold a college degree will surely connect with parents.

Furthermore, by coupling the US-DOL Journey-worker certificate with a college degree, the system adds value to the graduate’s future by providing options beyond one’s trade/industry.