The Detroit-based Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) today announced Detroit’s Ralph C. Wilson Foundation will provide $1.5 million in funding to cover training costs for the first 100 apprentices accepted into the Apprenti program over the next three years.
Apprenti is the nation’s first registered tech apprenticeship program that recruits, trains, and places women, veterans, and people of color in tech roles. The funding will cover the front-end training associated with Apprenti.
“Information technology skills building is increasingly important to employers across industries in Michigan,” says Michele Economou Ureste, executive director at WIN. “Apprenti provides a proven and reliable pathway for traditionally underrepresented populations to gain training, certifications, and job placement. This aligns with WIN’s ongoing efforts to help employers with workforce development solutions to close skills gaps widely recognized across the region.”
Apprenti was started in Seattle in 2016 by the Washington Technology Industry Association and launched in Detroit late last year as part of its national expansion. Nationally, the program has received nearly 6,000 applications and placed more than 200 apprentices into tech positions. Apprenti’s national employer partners include Amazon, Microsoft, Avvo, Comtech, F5 Networks, Accenture, and Silicon Mechanics, where apprentices earn an average salary of $51,000. The jobs include web developer, software developer, network security administrator, systems administrator, cloud support specialist, data center technician, and IT support professional.
“Our country’s tech industry has two big problems: we don’t have enough talent to fill jobs, and there’s very little diversity. Through Apprenti, our goal is to solve both challenges,” says Jennifer Carlson, executive director of Apprenti. “Today’s funding announcement ensures that our apprentices in southeast Michigan get the training they need without having to pay a dime.”
More than 87,000 IT jobs were posted in Michigan in 2017, and finding qualified talent remains the top challenge facing the technology sector in the state.
According to WIN’s web-based return-on-investment calculator, for every dollar invested in an information technology apprentice, employers receive on average $9.44, or more than $40,000 saved in year one of the apprenticeship.
The partnership is part of WIN’s apprenticeship expansion strategy through the Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation (AMCAI). AMCAI is a $4-million American Apprenticeship Initiative grant through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration with the goal of expanding registered apprenticeship opportunities through statewide innovation.
AMCAI covers 30 counties in southeast Michigan and is comprised of seven community colleges in the region — Henry Ford College, Jackson College, Lansing Community College, Mid-Michigan Community College, Oakland Community College, Schoolcraft College, and St. Clair County Community College — along with many local and regional corporate and workforce and economic development partners, including the Michigan Works! Agencies.
WIN is also working with Ann Arbor SPARK and Michigan Works! Southeast to establish a pilot program in Washtenaw County.