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CompTIA Seeks to Amplify Executive Order on Apprenticeships

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

The recently signed executive order doubles the funding for apprenticeship programs. CompTIA says it doesn't go far enough to cultivate a skilled and knowledgeable IT workforce.

Credit: Phovoir_ShutterstockCredit: Phovoir_ShutterstockOn June 15, President Trump signed an executive order to boost the number of apprenticeships in the United States from their current relatively low level of half a million or so by doubling the amount of government spending on such programs. That means spending will jump from $100 to $200 million for what Forbes calls "learn-to-earn programs." Alas, however, this is not new money. Rather that funding jump comes courtesy of reducing spending on other, already-funded job training programs sponsored by the Federal Government. Furthermore, the order leaves it to players in various market niches to design apprenticeships under what Forbes calls "broad standards to be set by the Labor Department."

Not shy about jumping in on such topics when they impinge on IT careers (and related career development and training matters), CompTIA has some pretty strong ideas on this subject, too. They issued a press release the same day as the President's executive order entitled "CompTIA Statement on the Administration’s Executive Order on Apprenticeships," in which they both endorse the order but also lament that it doesn't go far enough. 

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The organization's executive vice president for public advocacy, Elizabeth Hyman, began by mentioning  a looming shortfall of 1.8 million jobs in IT by 2024 as a rallying cry to make "a national priority" of "filling tech jobs with well-trained workers." She mentioned autonomous vehicles and Smart Cities as upcoming technology initiatives in particularly dire need of trained workers to jump on, to help realize the potential (and return on investment) in such things.

"The Trump administration's executive order looks to make apprenticeships easier for companies by removing barriers that have hindered the widespread adoption of these programs in the past," said Hyman. "Still, there are many programs that help businesses to identify and train candidates for apprenticeships that meet rigorous standards. The tech sector should work with federal and state authorities to find ways to distinguish these programs so that employers and students and workers are afforded the best opportunity to succeed."

She went on to point to potential legislation that CompTIA has introduced itself that could boost apprenticeships more. "The Championing New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in TECH) Act expands on work already being done by industry and intermediaries focused on employer hiring needs, assessing potential workforce, train them, and mitigating some costs to the employer by allowing them to pay reasonable salaries to their apprentices while they acquire the skills today's economy demands.  We hope to work with Congress to introduce and pass this legislation," she said.

CompTIA has been pushing this agenda for some time, and made it a key element of the organization's 2017 CompTIA DC fly-in, which sought to lobby Congress heavily on pro-IT career development, training, and job retraining elements. Chief among their various nostrums to aid IT career training and job development is the CHANCE in Tech Act. It seeks to provide ways for employer "to adopt alternative education models that include industry-led work-based learning" – that is, apprenticeships. Here are the program's initiatives in bulleted list form, straight from the source:

  • Develop an education and workforce bill specifically for tech
  • Based on the apprenticeship model developed under the American Apprenticeship Initiative scale up intermediary organizations called "work based learning accelerators" (WBLA)
  • Include in eligibility for the WBLA early college STEM students and assessed individuals 18 and over
  • Recognize and award high schools that align to tech career cluster pathways and have excellence in tech

This is potentially a terrific idea and a great way to groom the generation of kids currently of primary and secondary school age to find a good lifetime career, while also helping to address the looming skills gap in our country. It's a win-win situation if we can fund and grow such programs across the entire country. These kinds of programs are so useful and valuable that they could also provide a focus for retraining programs for workers beyond school age who've been laid off or who work in marginal industries or occupations where employment opportunities are on the downslope. Would you enroll in such a program?

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