Cincinnati Chamber, CIO Roundtable launch tech apprentice program

Several Cincinnati business groups have collaborated to launch Apprenti Cincinnati, a non-traditional program to drive more tech talent both within and to the region.

The program will work with companies to fill open positions with tech-interested people, regardless of their education or professional background. These apprentices receive 12–15 weeks of certified technical training before completing one year of paid on-the-job training at one of the program’s hiring companies.

The inaugural employers include Kroger Technology, Great American Insurance Group, Sogeti, and Northern Kentucky University IT.

The program is being brought to the region by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the CIO Roundtable, and supported by a grant from JPMorgan Chase. It was publicly announced Feb. 11.

Apprenti is a registered apprentice program created by the Washington Technology Industry Association in 2016, and now operates in 11 states, says Jennifer Carlson, executive director of the WTIA Workforce Institute.

She says about 11,000 tech jobs are open now in Greater Cincinnati. “How do we find people in our own backyards that can be cultivated to fill these roles?” she says. That’s the goal of the program, which she says has placed 400 apprentices into tech positions around the country.

The program is focused on bringing under-represented groups into the information technology sector, including people who may not have four-year college degrees.

“This program is not so interested in your degree or your pedigree that you bring with you,” says Jill Meyer, president and CEO of the Cincinnati Chamber. “Instead, they focus on candidates’ will to learn and will to work hard.”

“Do you have to go to a four-year school to get the training you need? No,” says Chris Hjelm, Kroger’s chief information officer.

Hjelm said there’s a particular need for IT employees in data analytics, machine learning, and cyber security. “If you have the skills, you can work anywhere,” he says.

“Because Apprenti Cincinnati is hiring candidates based upon aptitude, not background or education level, it will help yield an outsized pipeline of minority, women, and veteran talent for the Cincinnati region,” Meyer says.

Elsewhere, Apprenti’s employer partners include Amazon, Microsoft, Avvo, Comtech, F5 Networks, and Silicon Mechanics.

In addition to JPMorgan Chase, the program is partially funded through a U.S. Department of Labor contract and a grant from the American Apprenticeship Initiative, with support from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist, Cincinnati native and father of three. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.
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