National Apprenticeship Week, November 14-20 this year, is a time to showcase the impact, successes and value of apprenticeship programs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, it’s “an opportunity to highlight how Registered Apprenticeship, a proven and industry-driven training model, provides a critical talent pipeline that can help to address some of our nation’s pressing workforce challenges such as rebuilding our country’s infrastructure, addressing critical supply chain demands, supporting a clean energy workforce, modernizing our cybersecurity response and responding to care economy issues.” Apprenticeship programs are also an important part of “re-building our economy, advancing racial and gender equity, and supporting underserved communities.”
Cengage Group is proud to partner with Apprenti, an organization that creates alternative pathways to access diverse tech talent and help organizations address digital skills shortages through the time-tested model of apprenticeship. Appenti matches employers with candidates who may not have traditional credentials.
“Our partnership with Apprenti helps us as we work together to break down the stigma that comes along with alternative paths to education and focus on the paths that enable individuals to gain the skills and competencies needed to land a job and achieve success,” said Jim Chilton, Cengage Group’s Chief Technology Officer and General Manager of Infosec. “The Apprenti program provides a proven, reliable pipeline for underrepresented groups such as people of color, women and veterans to gain training, certification and placement within the talent-hungry tech industry.”
To recognize National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke with five of our very own apprentices, Adam B., Dan W., Larvel S., Lauren C. and Erron G., who share how their apprenticeship experiences helped them progress in their careers.
Using an Apprenticeship to Break into a New Industry
Adam B. became a Cengage Group apprentice earlier this year, and after completing the program he was hired full-time as an Associate Desktop Support Technician. He explains that “it is important that we, as a company, celebrate and recognize National Apprenticeship Week to not only show our commitment to education, but also our commitment to getting people the training needed to gain employment. We must demonstrate how we are helping to narrow the skills gap for unfilled job openings.”
Adam added, “participating in an apprenticeship program has allowed me to break into an industry that I have been trying to get into for years. It has opened the door for future opportunities as well as increased my income. The most important lesson I learned while working as an apprentice is that it is okay to make mistakes. The whole point of apprenticing under the watchful eye of a more experienced person is to make mistakes and learn how to recover from them.”
Investing in Your Career
Prior to joining our apprenticeship program, Dan W. worked with a large consulting firm doing healthcare compliance work. He was let go from that position during the pandemic and decided he wanted to make a change, so he spoke to a career coach and realized that he had a passion for helping people, particularly with technology issues.
Dan explained, “I had done some computer programming in high school and then my career coach mentioned Apprenti. I thought this was a great opportunity as I didn’t have extensive tech experience. I took the tests and eventually was granted an interview with Cengage Group. I thought that starting as an apprentice was an excellent opportunity to ask questions without feeling like I should have all the answers. I still wanted to do a great job, but I knew I was on a learning path. What’s amazing is that Cengage Group truly embraces that mindset since we are a learning company. I also loved the fact that the expense of training was covered by the employer. Sure, it’s nice not to have to pay, but more than that, it showed me that Cengage Group was already investing in my career.”
Dan added, “I loved my apprentice experience, and it far exceeded my expectations. I worked full-time in person, as opposed to being remote, and was paired with another new apprentice. It was nice to have another apprentice by my side. We could ask each other questions and it helped to go through the experience together. At times, studying for the exams on top of the daily job was tough, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience. After completing the apprenticeship program, I was hired on full-time as an Associate Desktop Support Technician and for the first time, I feel as though I’m working towards a career, and I’m very excited.”
Overcoming Misconceptions of Apprenticeship
Larvel S. is thankful for his apprenticeship experience and believes that more employers should offer apprenticeship programs. “In my situation, it was and continues to be skills like resourcefulness, adaptability, teamwork and work ethic that my manager saw in me during my interview that positioned me for success,” said Larvel. “These skills cannot be taught, they are developed and perfected through work experience. For me, it was time spent working in retail, education and other sectors that helped me find my place in technology.”
A common misconception about apprenticeships that Larvel would like to correct is “the idea that apprenticeships are for people who aren’t smart or who didn’t do well in school, in fact it is quite the opposite. In order for an apprentice to be successful, they have to grasp the education and job training aspects of a role in a short time span while balancing family, marriage, and/or caring for others. It takes determination, dedication, and resilience.”
Today, Larvel is an Information Technology Service Management Change Engineer. He says, “I believe the education and training that I received from both Apprenti and Cengage Group, along with my on-the-job training, really prepared me for success in my role and I am continuing to reap the benefits from it.”
Earn While You Learn
Lauren C., a current software engineering apprentice with Cengage Group, explains that she “chose to be part of an apprenticeship program because apprenticeships allow you to learn the exact skills needed for a given job. It’s also wonderful that you can earn and learn at the same time instead of potentially going into debt just for the hope of a job. My goals are to learn as much as possible, improve my software engineering skills and move into a permanent position as a Cengage Group software engineer.”
When we asked Lauren if her apprenticeship experience has lived up to her expectations, she said “so far it has been great. My coworkers are generous with their time and knowledge, and I’m learning so much. We use the phrase ‘drinking out of a firehose’ to describe the amount of new information we’re working to absorb, and there are certainly times where it can feel overwhelming, but I’m able to do more every day.”
Lauren believes that more companies should adopt the apprenticeship model because “it gives employees more opportunities to grow and change their careers as their skills grow and change, and it’s great for employers since it’s a common complaint that traditional schooling isn’t preparing people for the workforce.”
She added that, “college can be prohibitively expensive, and employers are having trouble finding people with the skill sets their companies need, apprenticeships make a lot of sense.”
Apprenticeships Foster Learning and Development
Erron G., one of our current apprentices, shared, “I decided to pursue an apprenticeship to help accelerate my professional development goals and career growth. I knew that this type of program would allow me to obtain skills that are directly correlated to the job I am interested in. This apprenticeship helped narrow down and streamline my education into specific areas. I am a part of real-world solutions, and gain knowledge directly from the field. I aim to refine my technical problem-solving skills as well as contribute to the organization’s aspirations.”
Erron says that his apprenticeship “has been very rewarding. I came into the program not knowing much about the industry, so this experience has been very enlightening. I went from not knowing what a tech stack was, to being able to use and deploy software for a leading global education technology company. Although, it’s my team members who have really made this experience special. I joined a group that genuinely cares about each other and their work. My expectations coming into this program were very ambivalent. My colleagues welcomed me and created an encouraging environment that fosters learning and development. My apprenticeship has surpassed all my expectations and reinvigorated my experience as an employee.”
Is an Apprenticeship in EdTech Right for You?
To those thinking about pursuing an apprenticeship, Erron says, “I never grasped how beneficial feeling uncomfortable can be. Piloting into an entirely different career direction can be daunting, but the overcoming of such challenges is what makes life meaningful. I wish more people knew that apprenticeships are about progress. The hours of dedicated time build upon each other and eventually prosper into something that is not only desirable but fulfilling. Apprenticeships are a journey; you can get as much out of them as you would like.”
To others considering an apprenticeship, Dan says, “go for it! Cengage Group is a perfect match for me. I am amazed at the number of employees I meet who have been with Cengage Group for 15 or 20+ years. I’m so happy where I am right now, and I wouldn’t be here had I not taken a chance with an apprenticeship.”
Taking the Next Step
To learn more about an apprenticeship in technology, reach out to Apprenti.
This content was originally posted as part of an employee takeover on our LinkedIn page. To see more, follow us on LinkedIn.