By Ashton Crawley
Pittsburgh’s growing technology sector is creating job opportunities and Apprenti, a national tech apprenticeship program that has launched here in Pittsburgh, is training people to fill those jobs.
“Ultimately our goal is to connect employers to a pipeline,” says Maria Fattore, who helped facilitate the launch of Apprenti PGH.
“There’s a talent gap here in Pittsburgh for tech roles and we have a lot of people in our various communities that have the knowledge, the expertise, the desire to work in tech but haven’t had the proper training.”
Apprenti PGH actively recruits underrepresented minorities, women, people of color, veterans, and displaced and disabled workers — although anyone age 18 and older is eligible to apply.
Fortyx80, the nonprofit arm of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, received a $100,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support the launch of Apprenti PGH. Apprenti was developed by the Washington Technology Industry Association, a sister organization to the Pittsburgh Technology Council, located in Seattle. Since its launch, Apprenti has placed more than 1,200 apprentices across the U.S.
The first apprentices in Pittsburgh began their training in the fall.
The program has a multi-step process for recruitment. Candidates must pass an assessment, are screened by Apprenti and then interviewed by an employer. Once an applicant is selected for an apprenticeship, Apprenti begins technical training, which is followed by one year of paid on-the-job experience with the employer.
Fattore says they try to keep the process as unbiased as possible by only revealing the initials of the candidates to potential employers along with their resumes.
“It’s kind of funny because I think it makes employers uncomfortable. I just tell them to pretend they’re going on a blind date,” Fattore says.
Locally, Apprenti PGH has placed students with investor and incubator company Wolf, LLC, tech consultants SDLC Partners, and IT and business consulting services firm CGI. Nationally, Apprenti works with Amazon, Microsoft, Wayfair, JPMorgan, and other large companies.
Arereya King, who started with Apprenti PGH in September and was placed with SDLC Partners, found out about the program while researching tech apprenticeships online.
“You’re in class basically eight hours a day, so you’re learning a lot every day. … It’s very intensive but it’s very rewarding,” she says. “They do it in such a way that you really have to be driven to learn.”
King says the program is a great way for people to be able to earn a livable wage without garnering student loans.
“I would definitely recommend it, especially for people of marginalized identities. It’s a really great opportunity,” King says.