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Jennifer Carlson, executive director of the WTIA Workforce Institute.
Jennifer Carlson, executive director of the WTIA Workforce Institute.

The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) announced today that its apprenticeship program, Apprenti, was awarded a $7.5 million contract from the Department of Labor to expand its services nationally.

Although apprenticeship programs are less common than coding bootcamps and other tech education pathways, they have recently been touted as a way to fill tech’s ever increasing talent gap.

“Millions of dollars being invested at the federal level in the Apprenti program validates the effectiveness of the registered apprenticeship model we have created for the tech industry,”Jennifer Carlson, executive director of the WITA Workforce Institute, said in a release. “We will work tirelessly to expand this model on a national scale to bring new job opportunities to the underrepresented while delivering the tech skills our country needs.”

To facilitate its expansion, Apprenti will set up a board of tech industry leaders from around the country, who will advise the program on areas of need and will also commit to taking on apprentices from the program. Microsoft and Accenture, already Apprenti partners in Washington state, have already signed on to participate on a national scale.

Apprenti was set up earlier this month by the WTIA’s nonprofit arm, the WTIA Workforce Institute, with the goal of taking on two of the tech industry’s biggest challenges: diversifying the tech workforce and finding workers to fill ever-widening talent gaps. The program initially planned to serve 600 students within four years in Washington state.

Apprenti focuses on opening a pathway into the tech workforce for minorities, including Hispanic and African American employees, women, and veterans. Only about 20 percent of tech workers are female, less than three percent are Hispanic or African American, and even fewer are veterans.

PREVIOUSLY: ‘Apprenti’ program aims to train and place 600 tech workers, led by WTIA and backed by $3.5M grant

Apprenti takes on new students for a two- to six- month training program in database administration, project management, network security administration, software development, or web development.

The program is partnering with Code Fellows and other education centers in Washington state for this training, and for now students are trained for free. The apprentices are then placed in a one-year, full time internship with one of the organization’s partner companies, where they are paid 60 percent the salary of a fully qualified employee.

Apprenti’s partner companies in Washington state include Microsoft, F5 Networks, Accenture and Impinj. The new grant is in addition to initial funding of $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor and Washington State Labor & Industries, bringing the program’s total funding so far to $10 million.

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