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Trend Toward IT Apprenticeships Picking Up Steam

It's quickly becoming more common to find IT up-and-comers resorting to apprenticeship arrangements to broaden the scope of their training and gain valuable work experience at the same time.

Apprentice happy guy at workApprenticeship is an approach to training the next generation of practitioners of a trade or profession primarily through on-the-job application of their skills under the close supervision of an experienced craftsman.


The idea is as old as human civilization, but became systematized during the later Middle Ages after famine and the Black Plague killed off half of the population of Europe and drastically increased the value of labor. There have been a number of tweaks across time, but that form of apprenticeship is re-emerging in 2017 — more about that in a second.


With an increased value in their labor, thousands of peasants began moving between principalities and kingdoms in pursuit of the same thing almost all people want — more money and a better standard of living. Of course, it helped to be a skilled worker such as a mason, glazier, cooper, carpenter, blacksmith, butcher, or baker. In response, trade guilds arose in towns and cities as a means of ensuring that those claiming to offer “skilled labor” were indeed skilled.


It was a simple process: An established citizen with a successful record in a trade — a master craftsman — would take on young people as an inexpensive form of labor and, over time, train them in the craft. In return for their labor, the master craftsman would provide food and lodging.


Eventually, apprentices would pick up enough knowledge and skill in the craft to become “journeymen,” with the authority to offer their services directly to customers. If the journeyman was good at his trade and had a mind for business, he could eventually open a workshop and take on apprentices of his own.


Apprentices served an important role in a guild’s ability to meet the needs of a town and region. It’s an old idea, one whose time has come around again, and one which could help the IT Industry bridge the current skills-gap.


One organization leading out in this effort is CompTIA and its IT-Ready program, a free eight-week intensive classroom-based education and training program that seeks students from groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in the field.


Participants generally come from the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed, displaced workers, women, ethnic minorities, and veterans. In just a couple of months, these individuals are prepped and ready to fill entry-level IT jobs and have certifications validating their knowledge and abilities.