Apprenticeship and Internships: Why Employers Should Consider Both as a Means to Strategic Workforce Development
Employers often ask, what is the difference between an internship and a registered apprenticeship, and…
Tech employers continue to face a pervasive digital skills talent shortage. In 2021 alone, 197,000 net new tech roles were created. However, there were only 75,000 college graduates with related degrees. More than 900,000 tech jobs went unfilled. To be sure, tech companies are challenged to recruit, train, and retain quality talent—and enough of it—to adequately meet their needs. So it is abundantly evident that employers must begin to think about how to source and hire tech talent differently. Traditional pathways such as higher education, H1-B visas, and poaching can only yield so many qualified candidates, and far below the actual number needed to fill these roles.
Tech employers also need help fulfilling diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in a meaningful rather than a performative way. That means making a notable and intentional departure from outmoded recruiting practices, which have resulted in a largely homogeneous workforce cherry-picked from top universities and colleges across the country.
Enter Apprenti, which bridges the talent gap by creating alternative pathways for employers to access tech talent and help organizations address the pervasive digital skills shortage. Specifically, Apprenti provides economic mobility to underrepresented groups such as women, veterans, people of color and people with disabilities by identifying, training and placing diverse talent through apprenticeship.
Why consider apprenticeship?
For the majority of U.S.-based tech employers, apprenticeship is a foreign concept—literally and figuratively. In Asian and European countries, however, apprenticeships are as common as America’s college internships.
To be clear, a registered apprenticeship is not an internship. Apprenti carefully vets potential apprentices through a rigorous application and interview process. They also receive targeted classroom instruction and on-the-job training from dedicated mentors at their hiring company.
Nonetheless, tech employers often don’t consider apprenticeship as a viable pathway to hiring qualified candidates. Why is that? Historically, apprenticeships have been associated with trade professions, such as masons, plumbers, and electricians. Skilled tech roles can be filled in a similar fashion using a registered apprenticeship model, which creates a faster path to qualified and certified talent.
Although apprenticeships have been an under-utilized hiring tactic to date, the tech industry stands to benefit significantly from tapping into this resource.
Apprenticeship offers three primary benefits for tech employers:
A sustainable talent pipeline
The digital skills shortage necessitates new pathways for sourcing talent. Higher education does not yield nearly enough qualified candidates; neither does the number of H1-B visas in tech that enable U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialized roles, such as software engineering or coding. Just 65,000 of these visas are issued annually. And although tech employers tend to rely heavily on poaching talent from competitors, this practice provides a finite source of workers at best, many with very specialized skill sets.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, fewer people are graduating from or choosing to attend four-year colleges and universities. In addition, 70% of Americans have not earned college degrees. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re any less talented or capable than someone with a four-year degree. Case in point, hiring a recent graduate of Harvard or MIT doesn’t automatically make them more qualified or adept than a specially trained apprentice.
Indeed, candidates with college degrees may have taken a variety of classes, however, it’s likely not all of them were focused on honing their digital skills, even if that was their chosen major. By contrast, an apprentice hired through Apprenti receives real-world, focused training that uniquely qualifies them for a specific role or occupation within the tech industry. When they complete that related technical training, apprentices have spent between five and 15 weeks learning the ins and outs of their occupation, and they are ready to apply their classroom knowledge to a hands-on role with an employer. Moreover, the Apprenti model is a repeatable, ongoing process, which means employers gain access to a sustainable pipeline of qualified candidates.
Consider, too, that the average Apprenti apprentice is 32 years old. Typically, this means that they have more work and life experience that they can apply to their new role in tech than the average new college graduate, for example. In addition, Apprenti puts candidates through a rigorous screening process before they can advance in the program, making it potentially less risky for employers to hire them.
A diverse pool of candidates
What does having a diverse workforce mean for your organization? Several research studies have shown that diversity helps companies improve productivity and profitability, create a positive culture, spark innovation, increase retention, and deliver better products and services to customers.
A McKinsey & Company report found that organizations with ethnic and culturally diverse leadership are 33% more likely to outperform their peers. And a study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that organizations with dedicated diversity policies and practices increased innovation revenue by up to 12.9%. HBS reported that companies with a diverse employee population also experienced 35% higher profitability. Inclusive organizations also have improved recruiting and retention. In fact, 67% of job seekers value workforce diversity, and employees who feel a sense of belonging in an organization are more likely to enjoy working there and want to remain for a long time. That translates to lower employee turnover and reduced time and cost to recruit new hires.
Apprenti can help deliver a diverse pipeline of qualified candidates—85% of apprentice placements are from underrepresented groups, including veterans, women, people of color, and people with disabilities. In addition, Apprenti even has a dedicated in-house access team to help support apprentices with disabilities and the employers who hire them.
A positive impact on your bottom line
All of this means a significant positive impact on your organization’s bottom line. Hiring apprentices saves companies recruiting and turnover costs—81% of Apprenti apprentices are retained vs. 75% of employees recruited from higher education institutions. In addition, employers realize a 35% savings in salary with an apprentice vs. an employee recruited through more traditional channels.
There are intangible benefits of apprenticeship, too, such as potentially faster ramp-up times, more loyal employees, and qualified candidates thoroughly vetted by an independent expert third party.
For employers considering hiring apprentices, funding is available to offset training fees. In addition, employers may be able to claim training expenses as a federal tax credit.
If apprenticeship sounds like it may be a good fit for your organization, visit https://apprenticareers.org/hire/ for more information about becoming a hiring partner with Apprenti.