STEM community college grads targeted for fast track path to IT careers

A new public-private partnership is fast tracking STEM community college grads into IT careers and four-year degrees to help meet an enormous demand for entry-level tech employees in corporate America.  

Competition for workers is so fierce that it’s common for IT workers to be “poached” by other companies, said Leo Goncalves, vice president of Workforce Solutions Group for the University of Phoenix that has teamed up with Woz Enterprise and the U.S. Department of Labor to offer the program. 

Leo Goncalves

“Even with the pandemic, IT jobs remain in demand and there is competition for finding resources,” Goncalves said. “Companies are willing to throw money around for higher salaries. There’s a lot of poaching going around in the space, so companies don’t get a lot of retention out of the folks they hire.”  

The new federally recognized apprenticeship program is designed to address both the intense need for entry level IT employees and to help companies retain those workers. 

“Old fashioned” corporate practices back in play to retain workers

To do that, the corporations involved are “getting back to those older mindsets” like paid apprenticeships, paid university tuition and university credits for the apprenticeship, said Chris Coleman, president of Woz Enterprise, a division of Arizona-based Woz U. 

Chris Coleman

The hope is that by providing financial incentives and on-site experience, participants will feel a sense of loyalty to the company and stick around, he said. 

Woz Enterprise builds and delivers the customized technology curricula that can result in credits toward a University of Phoenix Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology

For community college grads, the program offers a direct structured path to a job and a degree, typically at no cost to the student, Coleman said. The community college population fits into Woz U’s mission to make technology careers accessible to people who normally would not have that opportunity.

Infosys first corporate partner

The apprenticeship model launched this spring in Arizona and 10 other states in partnership with Infosys, a global leader in digital, IT, and consulting services. 

Selected candidates completed an eight-week pre-apprenticeship training program in one of seven technology tracks to gain essential day-one skills to start a career with one of Woz Enterprise’s recruiting business partners. 

Then as full-time junior associates, individuals participate in a structured online learning program for 12 months. During this time, they continue working and earning a salary, which increases as they gain key competencies. Training hours can be applied for college credit toward an IT degree at University of Phoenix. 

“We have all heard about the tech talent gap,” Coleman said. “Hundreds of companies have been trying to address it, yet here we are in 2020, and the gap remains. This apprenticeship model is the game-changer we have all been looking for.” 

Students and companies wanting to learn more about the program, may visit: Woz Enterprise apprenticeships

Victoria Harker

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