Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time for an IT apprenticeship

A recent New York Times (NYT) article, Plan B: Skip College, examines whether a vocational alternative, like apprenticeships, needs to be offered to students for whom college is not a good fit. In it, author Jacques Steinberg says
A small but influential group of economists and educators is pushing another pathway: for some students, no college at all. It’s time, they say, to develop credible alternatives for students unlikely to be successful pursuing a higher degree, or who may not be ready to do so.

Regular readers of this blog know that I favor having many different paths to the skills, knowledge and competencies required of IT professionals (see 2+2+2 = Bachelor of Applied Science), so I won't bore you with my understanding of the article.  You can read it for yourself, along with some interesting commentary here.

Instead, I want to get a sense from local IT managers if there is a place for something like an apprenticeship for IT staff and if there are openings available to those with less than a bachelors degree.  Specifically, I am focusing on corporate/government IT, not high-tech companies of the Microsoft variety.  These are positions like help desk, email administrator and programmer at banks, retailers and insurance companies.  I ask, because I know a lot of the jobs out there seem to carry educational requirements that leave many capable people out of the running. There's not much value in an apprenticeship if you won't hire the participants after they complete the program.

So I have a few question for all you IT leaders out there:
  1.  Do you have or would you be willing to add an entry level IT position in your organization whose educational requirements would be fulfilled by vocational education at the high school or community college level?  What types of position would that be (help desk, email administration, business analyst)?
  2. Are there any IT certifications in particular that you would consider as replacing education requirements in your hiring consideration?
  3. Would you be willing to be part of an apprenticeship program, some sort of public/private partnership to ensure training and work opportunities?