Key benefits of software developer apprenticeships

By Eliot Pearson

In my previous blog, I laid out the essential aspects of a technology apprenticeship program, including:

  • Structure
  • Precision coaching
  • Measurable outcomes

An apprenticeship program with these aspects will benefit the employer, the apprentice and the community at large.

Benefits to the employer

Software developer apprenticeship programs provide a steady stream of verified, reliable and sustainable local talent at a lower cost. Companies can expect to see savings from initial recruiting, resource ramp up, ongoing retention and succession planning.

Traditional staffing fills seats for the position at hand. There is no guarantee of growth and performance improvement for that individual as they continue their employment.

Apprenticeships have that growth path built in. You are hiring an individual who can do the job asked of them today and grow/evolve their skills as they progress in an organization.

Apprentices bring a level of passion and grit to their jobs. Because they entered the industry through a non-traditional route, they often feel they have something to prove. They display more humility in working with others from different backgrounds, which leads to better team dynamics and outcomes.

Benefits to apprentices

The benefit of a technology apprentice program to the apprentice is the same benefit given to apprentices since the Middle Ages: a chance for a job in a field they otherwise would have difficulty getting into.

Most entry-level developer positions still require a four-year computer science degree. Some require extra work experience on top of that. None of this is necessary, however, or indicative of hiring someone with the aptitude needed to become a great developer.

Through an apprenticeship, a person without these traditional credentials can prove that they belong in the tech industry. They don’t have to dig themselves into debt just to be part of the growing digital economy. And, they have a structured path, through which they can measure their progress and leverage their skills to grow a career.

Benefits to communities

Imagine adding hundreds or thousands of excellent paying, family sustaining jobs to a local tax base. What ripple effect would that have on the surrounding economy, local businesses, real estate, job market and overall quality of life?

This is what successful tech apprenticeship programs do. They take individuals who have the talent, but lack the opportunity, and move them from contracting to expanding sides of the digital divide.

Data from our Catalyte apprenticeship program shows an average earnings increase of 4x in just five years. The average annual pay before starting the program was $25,000. After five years it was $98,000. And this holds true regardless of prior education level or technology industry experience.

To see this level of community benefit, you need all partners – government, private sector, non-profits, education – working together. Whether it’s incentivizing apprenticeship programs, changing HR policies to allow hiring of apprentices or just letting the average person know they exist, communities can come together and create the jobs of the future; the jobs that will reinforce and build the local economy for years to come.

Eliot Pearson is VP of technical development at Catalyte

This post is adapted from a Sourcing of Innovation podcast on technology apprenticeships.