Building a 21st-Century Workforce: Why Registered Apprenticeship Programs Will Bridge the Digital Skills Divide
Half of the global workforce will require reskilling or upskilling by 2025, according to the…
At Apprenti, we are proud to support Veteran apprentices as they launch their careers in tech. Behind the scenes, our team is made up of a diverse population, including several Veterans. Meet a few of the exceptional Veteran team members who help make the Apprenti program possible.
If you are a Veteran interested in a career in tech, or if you’d like to learn more about hiring Veteran apprentices, reach out now.
Director of Program Operations
I spent around 11 years in service as an Army Officer. My active duty time was primarily spent in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in upstate New York with a deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The remainder of my service was spent in various units in the US Army Reserve in the New England area. I cannot say enough good things about my experience in the military. I was able to travel all over the U.S., Europe, and Asia, with some of the most professional and talented people that I have ever had the good fortune of working with. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to be a part of a diverse team. The military provides you with invaluable leadership experience, but arguably more important is the firsthand experience of truly supporting and being supported by those who made that same commitment to the country and to each other.
I began my civilian career in operations management in the food manufacturing industry. My focus was on production efficiency and process improvement while leading day-to-day operations for processing teams. After several years, I decided to attend graduate school, supported by the VA. I received my Master of Science in Marketing and Innovation as a result of that opportunity. Through many of the relationships forged on campus, I decided to prioritize a career in technical education, initially focusing on market research and program development for STEM degree programs. It was fascinating to me to see the shift towards efficient, affordable, non-credit programs to provide pathways to both enrich the lives of deserving individuals and close the tech talent skills gap.
After several years of studying and modeling modular, stackable academic programs in science and engineering, I took the opportunity to enter the apprenticeship space. I spent time within Apprenti’s education function modeling the technical elements and now serve as the Director of Program Operations.
Veterans are incredibly well-versed—not only in the technical and operational skills that they bring to the civilian workforce but also in their ability to seamlessly integrate into cross-functional teams and perform at a high level. Those skills are not always easy to translate to comparable civilian roles and competencies. Apprenticeship does a really great job of bridging that gap. Our team is very well-versed in helping veterans understand and map military experiences to exciting careers in technology. More than anything, we want to forge a relationship with Veterans in order to provide meaningful mentorship, regardless of career choice.
Know that your experiences WILL translate. You do not need to have a specific technical background to be successful in the apprenticeship or a technical career. The teaming and change management skills that you bring, your ability to adapt and apply logic to project work, and your inherent leadership (regardless of what level you came from) are drivers of success and make you a great candidate to explore any number of our apprenticeship occupations. If you aren’t sure, just reach out and ask!
Enterprise Program Manager
My time in the service was great. Short but great. I really enjoyed doing the “job” part of it. My Military Occupational Speciality (MOS) was an Intelligence Analyst. I really got to dig deep into data and provide a crucial service to our teams when we were not stationed stateside. I got to work with some really bright people that taught me alot and helped me grow as an individual. I’ve remained good friends with them over the years.
After I got out of the Army in 2012, I really pivoted my career goals and wanted to work with my hands more. I joined the railroad to fix locomotives and train cars. It was a vastly different experience, but very rewarding. I ended up leaving the railroad for a standardization and continuous improvement position with a commercial engineering and construction company in the Seattle area. That ultimately led me here to Apprenti where I am an Enterprise Program Manager.
I’m brand spanking new to Apprenti, so I’m still learning a lot, but I am beyond excited to be working with such a bright team. Helping Veterans learn and land roles in massively understaffed tech positions via apprenticeships is a huge part of what Apprenti does and being a Veteran myself, I can really appreciate that. I think the fresh perspective of what Apprenti is doing is going to be an absolute game-changer in this day and age.
I think that the transition from the military to the civilian side of things can be a little daunting for some people. I think there are a lot of great opportunities out there for Veterans, but they may be overshadowed by the self-doubt of “I’m not qualified for that.” I highly recommend taking that leap into tech, as it’s ever-changing and becoming more and more sought after. There are so many resources out there to learn from, and Apprenti can be one of those tools that you can use to jumpstart your new career.
CMSgt (RET) Kevin Gadd
USAF Enterprise Program Director
I grew up in a small town in Ohio and knew I had to get out and see the world. Plus, I knew I needed to learn a skill and get more disciplined. The Air Force offered me my best shot to do that, so I enlisted in 1985 as a security policeman. In basic training, they recognized that my ASVAB scores were pretty high, so I was asked to move to a new career field in technology and communications. That changed my life.
I served six years on active duty in North Dakota and Germany. I worked on brand new mainframe computers and then the oldest communications equipment, teletypes. So, it was quite an experience!
I got out in 1991 and went to Ohio State. At the same time, I joined the Air National Guard so I could still serve part-time. My college benefit (VEAP) and the Guard stipends allowed me to graduate from Ohio State almost debt-free and fulfilled my lifelong dream of graduating as a Buckeye.
Over the next 17 years, I remained in the Air Guard and had roles as unit First Sergeant, Help Desk Supervisor, Data Center Technician, combat communications team chief, and eventually my capstone position as the State Human Resource Advisor (diversity officer) and director of the ANG Mission-Driven Mentoring program. I retired in 2008 as a Chief Master Sergeant (E-9).
When I got out of active duty I was a lot like the Veterans we serve today. I had six years of “comm” experience and a Top Secret clearance, but it was not really relevant to the business environment I was applying into. My degree from Ohio State was in German, so it was very hard to get into a tech career and there was no apprenticeship program!
This was 1991, so computers were quite new, but were definitely the future. I spent more money than I had to buy a computer and just started learning everything I could about it. Soon, I was hired at White Castle as an IT Support Professional and my career took off from there.
Eventually, some other tech friends and I started a consulting business, which we eventually sold. I have been in a leadership role with several more tech-based startups over the years. That led me to focus more on helping others with tech startups as a commercialization director. Prior to coming to Apprenti, I founded a company with an online platform and content for teaching entrepreneurship and I taught entrepreneurship at Ohio State and some other great schools. My career in technology, and serving, led me to Apprenti.
For my first three years at Apprenti, I was the State Director for Ohio. I set up the program in Columbus, handling funding and registration with the state. I worked with local companies to set up their apprenticeship program, and with local nonprofits to find applicants for our program. We placed a number of Veterans into tech apprenticeships in the Columbus area during that time and continue to place apprentices all over Ohio now.
I am currently an Enterprise Program Director working mostly with Amazon’s military apprenticeship program and leading our efforts to connect with other Veteran-focused organizations. It is very rewarding to help Veterans get into these great programs, and ensure they get all of the benefits they deserve. We expect to continue growing with the Amazon apprenticeship program and bring in more Veterans for all of our hiring partners.
You can do it! There is a level of stress and hard work that it takes to get into this program and be successful in this program. But, it is nothing new to someone that completed basic training, technical training, and performed on-the-job training in the service. The environments and the training regimen are very similar. I would also say to never stop learning. Ask questions and dig deeper all the time. There are so many options in tech careers these days. Just as I did, you can start at an entry-level tech job and branch off into other cool things as time and experience go on. And, I would say good luck and thank you for your service.