By Russ Levanway, CEO
The Future Will Be Built on Tech
I believe there’s going to be a sea change in the workforce. But I don’t think that necessarily means we’re going to have the chronic, long-term unemployment that so many fear if we play our cards right and start training American workers to meet the extraordinary demand for technical positions.
Others Have Done it, Why Can’t We
Many other countries have done a good job of managing cross-industry training programs. Germany, for example, has done a great job keeping unemployment low and keeping people upwardly mobile when industries and jobs shift by putting into play journeyman-apprentice models in which a junior learner is assigned and paired with a master to learn and grow.
Currently, in the United States, the fastest growing sector is in the knowledge economy. This includes everything related to IT including programming, development, engineering, support, cloud services and much more. The unmet need is enormous: unemployment, in many areas of that industry, is zero. There simply aren’t enough qualified people.
In developed tech areas like Silicon Valley, there is not a big enough labor pool to sustain the growth necessary for it to progress forward. We see this on a smaller scale in both our Fresno and San Luis Obispo offices, too: there just aren’t enough technically qualified people applying for open positions.
Investing in Change
But we know there are good, sustainable, long-term, well-paying jobs in the IT industry. Which is why we are proud to be involved with a new program launched by the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, SLO Partners and Creating IT Futures to ensure that careers in technology are a reality for local residents while boosting the region’s workforce with qualified technicians.
The program, called the IT-Ready Program, is very robust. It follows the tried and true journeyman-apprentice model while offering free education, training, and career placement program while also paying students $70 per day to attend a technical boot camp for 14-weeks. The subsidy ought to provide someone who has potential but can’t otherwise afford to participate a real chance at gaining skills to land a head-of-household, upwardly mobile job in technology.
After the initial 14-week boot camp, apprentices are paired with employers who actively train toward the end-goal of the apprentice performing billable hours. This isn’t an internship where kids clean keyboards and take coffee orders. Instead, the expectation is that the apprentice will progress in developing career skills over the course of one year. If at the end of the year, the match doesn’t hold up, the apprentice is free to apply to work with another employer.
Right now, there’s extraordinary demand for technical positions and programs like these can make a real difference in improving opportunities for aspiring technicians and productivity in the local economy, all the while making huge strides for the tech industry as a whole.