Frankly Speaking - Adventures in Tech Apprenticeships

Episode 06 – Igniting a Learning and Growth Culture with Apprenticeships

Episode 06 – Igniting a Learning and Growth Culture with Apprenticeships

What is it really like setting up an apprenticeship program? How can skills-based hiring practices set up your workforce for the future? Workforce Futurist and Apprenticeship Guru Christina Arnone talks to Cable Rose about her experiences from the trenches of setting up highly successful apprenticeship programs. She started laying the groundwork for Sprint’s first apprenticeship program back in 2020 – and not only did she have to contend with Covid-19, but also organizational change thanks to the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.  “When we’re talking about retention in the age of such talent upheaval, with apprenticeship programs you play the long game,” Christina says. “It will pay for itself in dividends three, five, ten years down the road because you’re going to still have that really excited talent in your organization.” 

She talks about what it takes to build an apprenticeship program from the ground up, the reality of starting from scratch, and how to get a leadership team on board. “My argument to leadership is, where can I help you save money in your workforce? How can I help you create more efficiency in your current workforce, and how might apprenticeships enable those two things?” 

After seeing the impact apprenticeships grow over several cohorts at T-Mobile, now Christina is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and helping others shape the future of work for the good of society. She believes apprenticeships are key to unlocking an organization’s potential and can be an integral building block of a learning and growth culture.  

Disclaimer: All views shared in this episode are Christina Arnone’s. They in no way represent her previous employers, T-Mobile, Sprint or any other company she has supported.  


Christina Arnone, Workforce Futurist and Apprenticeship Guru

Christina Arnone is the former Sr. Program Manager for Apprenticeship Programs and Skills Based Learning at T-Mobile. Christina led a cross-functional team responsible for building, registering, and scaling company-wide apprenticeship programs as well as building a foundation for skills-based talent strategy. Within over 5 years at T-Mobile (and Sprint prior to 2020 merger), Christina implemented and operationalized T-Mobile’s inaugural apprenticeship programs and created a foundation for a skills-based talent strategy and role-based learning. Before her role in L&D, Christina was an HR Business Partner leading workforce planning, organizational effectiveness, and performance management efforts for finance, procurement, and network. Christina also led cross-functional teams supporting employee relations and recruitment for these corporate functions. 

Prior to T-Mobile, Christina led enterprise-wide cross-functional teams, project managed HR programs, mentored junior staff members, and facilitated learning with business leaders to determine their training needs with DST Systems, Inc for over 13 years. An operatic soprano, Christina attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music where she earned a Master of Music degree and has produced live theatrical performances across the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Christina is a workforce futurist and apprenticeship guru. Since leaving T-Mobile, she is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and skills to benefit her community and society. Christina shares a home in Missouri with her husband, Chris, and their two geriatric cats. 


Transcript: Franklin Speaking, Episode 6, Igniting a Learning and Growth Culture with Apprenticeships with Christina Arnone, Workforce Futurist and Apprenticeship Guru

Disclaimer: All views shared in this episode are Christina Arnone’s. They in no way represent her previous employers, T-Mobile, Sprint or any other company she has supported.  

[00:00:00] Christina: In the age of such talent upheaval, Apprenticeship programs, though you’re playing the long game, it will pay for itself in dividends 3, 5, 10 years down the road because you’re going to still have that really excited talent in your organization. 

[00:00:22] Announcer: Welcome to Frankly Speaking, the podcast that explores how tech apprenticeships really work. As a Franklin Apprenticeship Professional Success Coach, our host Cable Rose gives us an insider’s view from the real people and businesses who are using tech apprenticeship programs to develop the technical skills that the American economy so desperately needs. 

[00:00:48] Cable Rose: Welcome to another episode of Frankly Speaking – Adventures in Tech Apprenticeships. I am your host, Cable Rose, the uber fan of all thing tech apprenticeships. Today on the podcast, we have Christina. Christina’s coming to us as a workforce futurist, and we’ll talk about that during the episode, as well as someone who spent the last few years herself as an apprenticeship guru, getting and starting a national apprenticeship program at her last employer. 

Christina, thank you for sitting down with us today, and thank you for being on the podcast. I didn’t know where we really wanted to take this today, so I really appreciate you showing up a little while ago and having a pre-show with me and getting some background. I know I had some details. I looked online. We’ve done a few of these prep calls, but I’m really excited to see Christina and your history of and how you got into beyond Frankly Speaking this afternoon and sit down with us today. 

So do me a favor, Christina, tell us, how did you get to this chair today? What is your background in, and this is a broad question, you’d be like, “Okay, well, how would you start me off with this one?” I apologize, but how did you get to an IT realm that we’re sitting here today talking about apprenticeships in IT? 

[00:02:02] Christina: Thank you so much, Cable. I very much appreciate the invitation, and I am really excited about our conversation today. That is a really broad question. I’m sitting here thinking about that, like, “Where do I begin?” [chuckles] It’s very much a journey. I started my career in human resources, and I was an HR business partner. I did some work in chief of staff work. I did some work in the education realm, as far as being an education and development partner, doing some instructional design, and decided I wanted to go back into the HR business partner realm, specifically because I wanted to really have a one-on-one interaction and be able to help people. 

That’s where my journey started with then Sprint. As HR business partner, I was doing a lot of org design, I was doing a lot of employee relations stuff, which everybody loves to do. Talent management, kind of consulting and all the things that HR business partners do, some workforce planning, all that. I noticed that there was a large appetite for training, upskilling, reskilling. At the time, my client was finance. We built out a path for skills of the future for finance. Then we started having discussions about merging with T-Mobile. Everybody’s like, okay, we’ll merge. They decided to, and then they decided not to. 

We’re like, okay, well, we’re just going to go on. During that time, my boss at Sprint was just like, “Hey, we want you to do this assignment. We want you to understand what it would take and what it would look like for Sprint to have an apprenticeship program.” I just started doing a lot of research. At the time, Sprint was, I think a founding member, but I’m not sure if that’s correct, of the CTA Apprenticeship Coalition. Started attending meetings, started making connections, started building my network. Not really understanding what apprenticeship programs were or are, and how they might help our business. We were working through that. I had gotten buy-in from a business partner, which was in technology. [chuckles] We were on the cusp of creating a program, and we merged. That all stopped. [chuckles] 

[00:04:39] Cable: Yes, bigger picture stuff happened, right? 

[00:04:41] Christina: Right. What I did know, because everyone at Sprint was following very closely the merger and how the commitments we were making across the country to the [unintelligible 00:04:53], because there was the big hullabaloo about the merge. I knew that in Nevada, we had a merger commitment. We’d already committed at that point to build and operate apprenticeship programs in Nevada. I’m like, okay, well, my expertise, whatever I’m built is not going to go to waste. Whoever is taking this on [laughs] will benefit from this knowledge. Looking around, asking all of my contacts at T-Mobile, who’s taking this? Who’s taking this? [laughs] [unintelligible 00:05:24] they have all this knowledge, ready to give it to you. Funny enough, it was me. [laughs] 

[00:05:33] Cable: You jumped from black to yellow, to pink to black. You went from Sprint to T-Mobile and you actually just built, brought the program over? What year was this? 

[00:05:42] Christina: This was 2020. 

[00:05:46] Cable: Okay. 

[00:05:47] Christina: 2020, because the world stopped- 

[00:05:51] Cable: March of 2020. 

[00:05:52] Christina: -2020, and we kept going. We did not stop. When after we merged during a time where we couldn’t all be together, and it was hard. I look back in awe of how we got to where we were at the time at T-Mobile. I will say props to our senior leadership, they did an amazing job working us through that time. We’ll shoot now with the leaders in the industry or they’re the leaders of the industry, I should say. You know what I mean? 

[00:06:27] Cable: Up track. 

[00:06:28] Christina: It was a great thing, and during that time, April, we started building apprenticeship programs in Nevada proper. Our commitment stated that we had 180 days from close to actually stand these up. In that time period, I got us registered as a national sponsor or designated as a national sponsor of apprenticeship programs. I registered four programs with the DOL to begin in the state of Nevada- 

[00:06:58] Cable: Correct. 

[00:06:58] Christina: -but to expand nationally. We launched those programs in September of 2020. 

[00:07:06] Cable: The middle of COVID, yes. 

[00:07:09] Christina: We were off to the races. So of those programs, three of them were brand new registered programs. We had the frontline customer service representative, which wasn’t so much a new, but it was a different take on something that had already been established. The same was true with the training position. The business analyst position was totally new. We had to actually bring together our industry partners to, I guess, influence the DOL to make it an apprenticable occupation, and we were the first ones to do that. 

[00:07:44] Cable: Not only did you do the customer care, you did a trainer. You’ve got certified department of labor apprentice trainers now who are on the team or on the staff from that point forward. Then you invented or created or designed the business analyst position that was the first of its kind. You made a comment early on. You said you wanted to help people, and I heard it right out the gate, Christina. That was one of the first things. I was in HR. I’m going to use one of your terms here too. Workforce futurist. I don’t know what the hell that means. I have no idea what that is. If that’s a normal thing, that’s great. I have no idea what it is. What is your idea of a workforce futurist? Because I want to tie it in to this statement here. 

[00:08:25] Christina: No, no, I completely appreciate that. I made that up. [laughs] 

[00:08:29] Cable: I love it. As soon as I read that, I was like, “What is a workforce futurist?” 

[00:08:33] Christina: In my time at T-Mobile, I was charged with bringing to life programs and concepts that nobody else was doing. I knew there were other companies, other large companies doing apprenticeship programs, like IBM, we partnered very closely with IBM. I knew none of the other telecoms were doing it. So I’m like, okay, now I have to convince my leadership that we need to do this. That was one thing that I was hanging my hat on, apprenticeship program. 

Then we all started doing more research on what’s happening in the industry as far as talent’s concerned, because we had the great resignation, the great reshuffle. I started listening to a lot of Josh Bersin. I started listening to a lot of Accenture, Kenzie, all of these big name consulting firms, researching and understanding what was happening in real time as far as talent and the workforce. 

I was charged with how do we prepare as a business for what’s to come? What I knew based on that research was, okay, the population in the United States is decreasing. The birth rate is decreasing. The cost of college is skyrocketing. At the end of the day, college graduates are not fully prepared for the corporate world. I knew all that as a basis, but what I was trying to understand is how do we connect our business strategy and how we deal with talent? How do those two things connect? To me, from all the research that I’ve been doing, it was skills. Skills are the future of the workforce. 

To me, that’s the baseline and the basis for all apprenticeship programs, you’re skilling people that are not skilled. When I say I’m a workforce futurist, I really take hold of what people are saying, like Josh Bersin and like Accenture and McKenzie. I find ways to operationalize and enable it for companies. That’s what I do. 

For me, being ahead of the game and being in that workforce future helps prepare people now and in the present, so not just for companies, but just for people in general. If I have someone who is not skilled or wants to change their path in a career, so okay, let’s look at what skills you have and let’s look at what skills you need for this, whatever it is. To me, that’s the future of the workforce. 

[00:11:30] Cable: Christina, I wish I could show everybody. I got chill bumps. Okay, so let’s talk about it. I’m going to put this whole thing in my brain here and see if I can grasp what you’re saying. Workforce futurist, I love this. You do the research. You see the data, you see the trends, and you are– it’s not like the market where you’re like future gains and future losses. 

You’re not doing that. You just see what it is for the reality and see what’s coming in the future of what that gap is. Go backwards to your statement earlier where you said you want to help people. An apprenticeship program was one of the ways it sounds like you saw that you could take someone who has the passion, we use the word affinity, for a skill, and then you dive in and give them that skill. You used reskill and upskill, is that what you said earlier? 

[00:12:19] Christina: Yes. Reskilling and upskilling. 

[00:12:20] Cable: I love it. Again, all new terms for me. Reskill and upskill. Then you’re going to take that person who has the desire, has the passion. They’re eager, they’re hungry, they’ve got now a program, a platform. They have a person in their corner that’s going to support them to take on said thing. All of this sounds great. 

I’ve got to go back to [unintelligible 00:12:41] statement. How the hell did you convince senior leadership to go, “Okay, bring in this unfound talent and let’s bring in an apprenticeship.” How is that–? Because that was a huge part of the story. I don’t know if anybody realizes it. You’re absolutely right. How did you get from the state of Nevada as a– it was an apostrophe of a sentence somewhere in some plan of something that you started that then came over to T-Mobile or at the time your new client as this program. How did you convince them? 

[00:13:10] Christina: First of all, there was no convincing. Well, because it was a commitment. We had to do it. It was a merger commitment. I was lucky in that. Now, that was just for the state of Nevada. Now what we have been trying to do, and it’s an ongoing negotiation with leaders. I feel like this is true not just for where I’ve come from, but across the industry, is that negotiation of, “Okay, so I need talent, but I need talent at a certain level.” “Do you? [chuckles] I mean, really do you?” 

I am a big proponent of taking a look at the talent that you currently have and understanding really what the core services and core deliverables that you need for them to deliver. Based on that, where can you fit in or where do you need folks to do more repetitive, more entry-level work versus you have a mid to senior level person doing that work when they should be doing all of the creative and building and all of that good stuff. 

When I go into a conversation with business leaders, it’s more of like, my first question is, what are you charged with doing? You would be surprised at how frequent they’re coming back to me and saying, “That’s a good question.” 

[00:14:42] Cable: I know. 

[00:14:43] Christina: I am also a big proponent of tying those deliverables to the business strategy. This is all like workforce planning. I could do a deep dive into that, but that’s not why we’re here for. So my argument to leadership is, where can I help you save money in your workforce? How can I help you create more efficiency in your current workforce, and how might apprenticeships enable those two things? 

[00:15:15] Cable: I love it. I like how you said sometimes the response when you ask that question, like, what is it you actually need? What is the bottom line that–? They’re like, “I don’t know. That’s a great question.” Then I wonder, now I’ve got a few years under my belt with apprenticeships here. I am a registered certified success coach with the DOL through Franklin. I’ve done my apprenticeship to be a success coach. I’ve gone through putting the hours in, putting the criteria in. 

I’ve met all of those things and gone through it. What does it look like for business leaders that come in and say, “Okay, great, I can bring apprentices in.” What does that look like for them to understand what that really means because just like you said, they don’t even know the bottom line. Now you’re going to try to convince them that you can bring in an outside non-traditional workforce and say, “Hey, these men and women have such talents that we haven’t tapped yet.” Our clients and some of the ones that we’ve had with us, when they hear apprenticeship, the first word they say is intern. 

Then we have to do [unintelligible 00:16:16] verbiage, we have to work that verbiage so they understand it’s not an intern, this is not an unpaid skill. These are men and women coming in paid from day one in apprenticeship and they’re registered, but they don’t know what to expect from a green or a brand new person who is coming into an IT realm. Like you said, are they expected to do mid-level? Are they expected to come in at a certain point or are they going to get that allowance of learning curve to get them up to speed? 

Once our clients see it, once they see what can be done with a support of an apprenticeship, with the support of success coach, with the support of a framework and a roadmap, that they come back for more, they come back. How does that look when you go from this quandary? There’s just a question mark in that room, and then you try to explain what apprenticeship is and then what is the value that they see two, three years down the road. You had a couple years with your company. What does that look like now, two or three years later? 

[00:17:15] Christina: Well, I will tell you, it’s all about starting small. Especially for a large company that is really entrenched in their methodology of how they’re doing things. It’s all about starting small. I think that we’ve successfully done that or we had successfully done that with our Nevada apprenticeship programs at T-Mobile. I feel like that has fed a desire for more. I know for our customer service apprenticeship program, we had two people in it to begin. 

One unfortunately fell out of the program, and one went the distance and now has been promoted twice. She’s a lifelong T-Mobile person. She is– the loyalty there is unmatched. We keep getting more and more like that. That apprenticeship program has grown exponentially. I think when I left, they had 11 or 12 apprentices at that level, which it is already an entry level position, but our customer service partners are so specialized and so skilled that when they’re often hiring for those positions, they’re hiring for people that have customer service background. 

None of our apprentices do. That’s the thing that’s paid dividends for them because as you know, frontline turnover is huge. All apprentices that have graduated the program and converted into full-time positions have stayed. We had a 90% retention rate, and that was one year post-graduation. 

[00:18:58] Cable: Wow 

[00:19:01] Christina: It’s huge. If you’re sitting at the frontline, it’s equally as [unintelligible 00:19:05] but exciting in the technology field. We have a systems administration apprenticeship program. All apprentices that have graduated and converted are currently with T-Mobile, and they have a 100% retention rate 12 months post-graduation. It’s just very exciting. I feel like when we’re talking about retention in the age of such talent upheaval, apprenticeship programs, though you play the long game, it will pay for itself in dividends 3, 5, 10 years down the road because you’re going to still have that really excited talent in your organization. 

[00:19:51] Cable: If I may share with you a story that I had happened last September, I happened to be in Virginia speaking at a conference to a room full of men and women who were looking to maybe get into an apprenticeship program into their organizations. We were also fortunate enough that this group that had the panels of people speaking ,we had, I don’t know if you know John Ladd, the Director of National Apprenticeship Program. We had the Commonwealth of Virginia Gary Pan. He is the director for the State or the Commonwealth of Virginia. He was in the room. 

John spoke about national, Gary spoke about the state. Then myself, the client who was in the room, they were going to speak. Meredith Stowell from IBM. She was there speaking about the connection from apprenticeships to IBM to the client that we were standing with. Everybody in the room listened. Don’t get me wrong, and I understand having a room full of a lot of information can be a bit much. 

On the panel that I was on it was myself, an apprentice and a manager. We were going to hear what it looked like in the trenches in a real organization with the real– and even with the great men and women who had spoken in the room between Meredith and John and Gary and everybody else, the apprentice said one thing that just blew me away and nobody heard it. 

I stopped and Meredith said, Cable, success coach, could you tell everybody what you do in this process? And I said no, but let me show you what I do. What I did is I went through the room, I said you’ve got the commissioner, you’ve got the director, you’ve got the men and women who put this together, you’ve got the CEO who brought this into the program, the manager at the frontline. If nobody else heard anything else, the apprentice, a 25-year-old young man, it’s his first career job. It’s his first IT job. He just said I want to come to work every day and give my best because I was given the opportunity to jump into this type of role. He is in a billion dollar company in banking doing some real [beep] like this is no kidding. 

And this whole room just went and puckered up. They sat up and said, “Wait a minute. What?” I said, “If you’re looking for– y’all are telling me about–” You said it earlier, Christina, “your strategy, how you get your workforce.” All of these things that all these companies tried to do. There are men and women out there who are hungry and can show up and they can do a damn good job and they can get through their apprenticeship. 

Then they are, I love your word, loyal because that company set it in. That CEO sat up a little bit higher, and Meredith stood up. Meredith stood up a little bit prouder and that whole room ran to both the state of and to John and said, “How do I get my company in?” And it wasn’t anything I did because I still didn’t even tell what a success coach did. I missed the whole mark of my entire query. I didn’t even tell them what I did. I just connected the point that nobody paid attention. 

They’re showing up and they’re going to give every bit they’ve gotten as this apprenticeship. That’s exactly what we see here in Franklin. The apprentices that are coming through, they’re doing exactly that. They’re hungry, they’re excited, they’re writing me at 9:30 at night asking for more work. Nobody wants more work, but they’re calling, they’re writing, they’re showing up at additional stuff. They’ve asked their leadership, “Can we get more training on this topic? Because I can see the benefit.” 

These apprenticeships for us from what I’ve seen are fantastic. What has been something that you’ve seen that maybe you didn’t expect two or three years ago when you started this process? What’s a return on your investment that you never saw or never planned for? Is there anything that stands out to you? 

[00:23:22] Christina: Well I think what I didn’t expect– well, I kind of I expected it, but I didn’t expect to it be so fully realized by the time like in the three years that we were doing apprenticeship programs. The absolute growth of not just the apprentices, of the managers and the mentors that we had within T-Mobile. It was so gratifying. I will say that they learned as much if not more by engaging with apprentices and helping to teach apprentices and learn. They’re learning more about their jobs than they ever had thought that they would. 

It’s creating a learning environment in the organization. Which is to me that’s the wave of the future. If you are a business that is results or performance based, right now in today’s environment that’s not optimal for long-term longevity in the talent space. Moving that culture into a learning and growth-based culture is going to create that opportunity for loyalty and longevity of your current workforce. The mentors, the managers, they have grown so much in their roles and in their positions. That’s aside from the life-changing [chuckle]. 

[00:24:53] Cable: Opportunity. 

[00:24:56] Christina: Yes. An apprenticeship program that we had created. That’s a clear second for me. 

[00:25:02] Cable: What a great way to put this because, again, you did it twice now. I got chill bumps. You did it where you’re right, it’s a life-changing experience or opportunity for men and women to come into an apprenticeship out of the blue, no background, and step into whatever that apprenticeship is. Whatever it’s IT, CDL if you– is a CDL, commercial driver’s license. Right? Long haul trucking, they’ve got a lot of things. They’re doing everything now. 

[00:25:26] Christina: Exactly. 

[00:25:26] Cable: It doesn’t matter what you’re coming into, you are coming in clean slate and you’re coming in. There’s the first ripe benefit of the apprenticeship program. They have an opportunity. You’re right, we’ve seen the greatest success in some of our clients when those managers and mentors engage and get involved. Next thing you know– because at first we were always feeling like we were forcing our apprentices to sit in front of their manager or mentor. 

We were hoping to get that [unintelligible 00:25:51] then after a while they ran with it. They started having luncheons, they started having one-on-ones. They started coming to us. It really showed the exponential growth. And rather than eight months before they got to touch the mainframe or go into some IT realm or do something, it was six months, and now it’s four months. Now they’re buddied with the last cohort because we’re seeing our return on investment. When the next cohort comes on, you partner with somebody else. I see you shaking your head. You must have some sort of experience with that. 

[00:26:20] Christina: Oh my gosh. Our systems administrator apprentices are– It is so gratifying when graduated apprentices come in to mentor new apprentices. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of growth and knowledge sharing. Like I said, it engenders and promotes this growth-based culture. This learning culture that is invaluable. Having a growth culture it’s going to be like gold. People that are searching for jobs and top talent are really looking for a place where they can grow their careers. 

From the research that I’ve done what that means is how can I build the skills that I need to get to whatever my purpose is at your company. In that statement you have to find your purpose at whatever company that you’re going to. Right? When I was creating skills based talent strategy, it was all about, okay, so from a company level we got to connect talent to the strategy. You have a build strategy, you have a buy strategy, you have a borrow strategy, blah blah blah, whatever. For everyday partners and everyday employees, it’s about finding your purpose. That all begins with your manager, your leadership helping you find what you are passionate about at the company and then allowing you to do that. 

[00:27:59] Cable: I’m going to go to the next topic you have, you have workforce futurist and apprenticeship guru. I’m going to tie those together because as a workforce futurist you saw it, you saw down the road and you knew what those gaps were, those needs were. You knew that there was something in place that you could then leverage to bring forward and fill those gaps. I believe that is the apprenticeship realm or the apprenticeship that you’re speaking of is that and filling into each whatever that apprenticeship is, whether it’s an IT or services or whatever it’s, it’s going to fill that gap. I like you said blah blah blah, you got to do the strategy and the buy and this, the borrow, all this stuff. You’re right. As a whole that apprenticeship idea and concept is starting to just– when it’s understood, that’s where we’ve seen the greatest return on our clients. 

[00:28:48] Christina: Oh, absolutely. What I was trying to do in my last few months was really connect apprenticeship as a tool to enable workforce strategy. It’s one tool and the myriad of tools to do that. Adopting apprenticeships from a business side of things, from a business leader’s perspective is tough because they have deliverables, whatever. 

I feel like there is an opportunity to take a percentage of your headcount and dedicate it to early-in-careers talent. Whether that is 5% in internships and then 5% in apprenticeships, you’re going to get a better return on investment with, frankly, than you will with internships. Sometimes you have to start there and bring it forward that way. Well, to me, if you are entering into that performance results based culture with apprenticeship programs, and you have to meet the business where it is and then be subversive in trying to change the culture to something that is more supportive of that. 

[00:30:03] Cable: I think, Christina, one, you and I could probably do this for the next three or four hours straight and talk, because I only [unintelligible 00:30:09] [laughter] but I want to be respectful of your time so I do want to make sure, but I really love where you’ve taken us today. You’ve walked us down the path of saying, you know what, we saw this a few years ago, it was a byline, it was a program we were going to start. 

Then it blew into something bigger. We took it to another space, another realm. We saw the value in it, we added to it. We’re going to see the impact it has for the return on your investment from all of the things that are happening. Now, as a, I love this one, workforce futurist, you are now going to go, and again, these conversations you’re having, these ideas you’re sharing, the realities that you’re sharing. These aren’t just ideas, these are realities, these are the actual outcomes, what you’re sharing and how you’re doing it. 

One, I want to thank you because it’s huge. It’s a huge space that is untouched, and I don’t want to say untouched, it’s just scratched upon. It’s just scratched upon, but when you find the leaders and those ones that say okay and they actually see it, I’ll tell you what, we got clients, I can list a myriad of clients right now that are running on their third, fourth cohort. 

They’re asking for more sooner. They’re saying, “Hey, can you come on site now, Franklin, and be here and do something local with us?” They want that because they’ve seen how it works, they’ve seen what the outcomes are and they’re like, let’s, like you said, let’s jump on this and run. 

[00:31:27] Christina: Well, and I think that that’s the importance of intermediaries like Franklin. That is, it’s important because I know from my perspective, building apprenticeship programs, literally all internal, we provided the training, we provided the whole nine yards, it’s not a fast process. When you are in an environment that’s very quick, which all telecom is, it’s all constantly changing, very quick, bringing in an intermediary is really beneficial because you’re not charged with providing software development curriculum. 

You’re not charged with providing mentoring. I will also say, it’s important that you do engage your business and your mentors to provide that on the business side of things. I’ve always said that if we were to ever, or if I were to ever suggest a software development program, a cybersecurity program, bringing in an intermediary is the fastest, most efficient way that you can do that with a quick uptime. 

[00:32:40] Cable: Quick uptime and a quick return on that uptime because it’s a, again, we’re a proven record, we’re a proven process. We have the support when something doesn’t look the same way that you want it to, you come to us and we tweak or we adapt and we deliver. That’s what the intermediaries do. That’s what Franklin does. We deliver. 

[00:32:58] Christina: Absolutely. Having that versus a homegrown internal apprenticeship office is a lot more cost effective. 

[00:33:07] Cable: Well, I could tell you what we’ve put in for the last five years here at Franklin and what it’s taken for us to get to this point. If you’re just a company trying to do that yourself, that’s an entire division of your company, or you bring in someone and we come in and we just plug and play. This is your need, this is in our delivery, this is how we’re going to do it, everybody connects and we go to the end and here we go. I love it. 

One last question I always ask my guests, we have our mantra here, this is our tagline for Franklin. It’s potential unlocked. I’m going to put those two words in your thoughts just for a moment, potential unlocked. Is there anything you would like to tell our audience, which is, again, apprentices, managers, mentors, we talk to HR, we have men and women all over the country listen to this podcast. 

Is there anything you would like to tell them in just the realm of those two words, potential unlocked? It’s a broad question, and I’m sure my marketing’s going to kill me for how broad I get with my questions, but I don’t like to frame things. I don’t want to put a thought in your mind. Those two words, what do they mean to you and what would you like to say in in those two words towards apprenticeships? 

[00:34:15] Christina: If potential unlocked, I think apprenticeship programs are the key to unlocking potential, but I’ll also go one step further. 

[00:34:25] Cable: Oh, please. 

[00:34:26] Christina: Apprenticeship programs are the key to unlocking potential. I will also say that culture, learning and growth culture has the greatest opportunity to unlocking potential. 

[00:34:41] Cable: Love it. That’s exactly where we’re going to leave this last statement, is those words from Christina. Say it again, it’s a learning and growth culture. A learning and growth culture, and how you tie that to unlocking potential. Again, I’m a lifelong learner. I don’t have any degrees, I don’t have any background of anything. I stumbled into a career. 

I stumbled into another career. I stumbled into a classroom. I stumbled into public speaking. I stumbled and stumbled and stumbled, and I only failed forward if that’s the John C. Maxville title is Failing Forward. I only failed forward in my life, but I’m a lifelong learner. I either win or I learn. That’s a real simple approach to life, but my potential has never really been hindered by the fact that I have that mindset. 

I have a growth mindset, I have a learning culture so I’ve always moved forward. Just trying to keep that in the same context. If we can do that for organizations and we can do that for senior leaders and we can do that for individuals and we can do that for the planet, Christina, I’m right there with you. 

[00:35:44] Christina: We’re going to solve world hunger. 

[00:35:46] Cable: I love it. Let’s do it. Let’s do it. That’s what we’re going to do. 

[00:35:51] Christina: No, we’re not going to solve world hunger. We’re going to solve this talent thing. We’re going to solve it. 

[00:35:56] Cable: We’re going to solve, how do I say close-mindedness because that’s not the right term, but we need open-minded people to say, “Hey, let’s look at a different approach. We’ve done it this long for this way, for this many years, we’ve done it this way. Let’s look at an different approach. Let’s get people outside the box.” 

[00:36:11] Christina: I think that I want to be respectful of your time too, because I can talk for about this for days, but I think it’s also not just a partnership with business and intermediaries, but it is higher education. It is public school system. It is the private and the public coming together to create an environment where we’re skilling kids in a way that’s going to provide them the best possible future. 

All that should be based on what is the purpose for these children? What is the purpose for these young adults? What is the purpose for these career switchers? What is the purpose? If you can’t allow people the time and space to discover that or help them discover that, it’s a tragedy. 

[00:37:00] Cable: I was 33 before I realized I was good at anything. Don’t get me wrong, I had a full career at that point. I was in telephony, I was in IT, I was wires, I was mainframes, I was hard– I was into something, but it wasn’t my passion. Then at 33, I stumbled into something that I found out I want to do this for the rest of my days. That’s why I’m sitting here today sharing your story and sharing your experiences with the world just because that’s what I want to do, is get out there and and connect the world to everything that needs to be connected. Christina- 

[00:37:32] Christina: That’s awesome. 

[00:37:33] Cable: -it has been an absolute pleasure. Again, you could be on every week with me if you want because we do this all the time. 


Maybe I’ll have you back in six months and we’ll see what else you’ve gotten into in the last– 

[00:37:42] Christina: I would love it. Hey, I am always happy to host. I am always happy to do whatever you need me to do, man. 

[00:37:51] Cable: You got me on the hook. Listen, you got me on the hook and what a great idea. We could bring up third party in that then you and I could then talk from intermediary and someone that’s been in with a client that’s been in with and have a– Oh, I can see the, oh my God, all kinds of ideas. I got all kinds of ideas now. I love it. I love it. 

[00:38:08] Christina: I love it. 

[00:38:08] Cable: Christina, always a pleasure. I really am grateful of your time. I know you’ve had a busy few weeks and I appreciate you sitting down with us today here on Frankly Speaking. Is there any final thoughts, any final words that you’d like to share with the audience? 

[00:38:21] Christina: Just have fun. Find your purpose and enjoy the ride. Just enjoy it. 

[00:38:30] Cable: I love it. Thank you for listening to this episode of Frankly Speaking – Adventures in Tech Apprenticeships. We always appreciate you stopping by to listen, and as always, like and subscribe to get all of your apprenticeship news right to your inbox. 

[00:38:46] Announcer: Thank you for listening to Frankly Speaking – Adventures in Tech Apprenticeships. This podcast was produced by Franklin Apprenticeships, a woman-owned tech apprenticeship company on a mission to unlock the potential of the American workforce. 

Franklin offers apprenticeships for a range of tech roles such as cybersecurity, help desk, IBMZ, network engineering, and software engineering. Help us spread the word about tech apprenticeships by leaving a review and telling a friend about our show. Don’t forget to subscribe to be notified of new episodes. 

[00:39:25] [END OF AUDIO] 

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