New BFIT programing trains job-seekers for high tech career

Adults with a high school degree or the equivalent who want to break into the tech industry can apply for training through Apprenti’s IT training programs, now in partnership with the state government and educational institutes, including the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT).

Apprenti, a nonprofit organization founded in Seattle in 2015, connects employers that need talent, people who want occupational training, and the government through registered apprenticeship programs. Participants go through intensive classroom training before being placed at one of Apprenti’s hiring partners for paid yearlong hands-on training.

“Across industries, companies are looking to fill IT jobs,” said Lauren Jones, Apprenti Massachusetts director. “In the most recent data that I have, nearly three million jobs posted for IT roles were yet unfilled across the country.”

Apprenti entered the Bay State last year, and its first registered apprenticeship cohort, trained in software development, started in April. Those in the second cohort are studying IT business analytics, a partnership program with BFIT.

A candidate for Apprenti’s program first goes through a screening process including an online assessment measuring math, critical thinking, and logic as well as soft skills. Apprenti then interviews candidates and recommends them to its hiring partners, Boston-area companies including Cengage, Wayfair, PTC and Harvard University Information Technology. The companies select candidates as their apprentices, and provide paid on-the-job training after technical training, Jones explained.

The 14 new IT business analytics apprentices started their technical training last Monday at BFIT in a classroom equipped with computers.

“Monday they were very stressed,” said Scott Rose, one of the six BFIT professors guiding the apprentices through the 16-week curriculum. Rose, who helped design the curriculum, said the students have daily quizzes and tests, and are committed to five hours of self-study in addition to the eight-hour classes every workday.

Aisha Francis, chief of staff at BFIT, said the training in the partnership is something that the school already provides in degree programs. She said the apprentices come from a variety of backgrounds. “Veterans, people who have degrees, people who have some college but were unable to finish, people who don’t have college degrees—some are of traditional college age, and some are older—career transitioners, and people who know they want to directly go into the information technology field.”

In December, these apprentices will move on to work for Apprenti’s hiring partners as full-time employees after they pass the certificate exam. They will receive benefits and salaries—a minimum of 60 percent of entry-level rates—with the possibility for a raise.

Francis said more people who want to receive credits for training should avail themselves of the opportunity, while Jones said Apprenti is looking to attract more companies as hiring partners.

The next cohort, Jones said, will be launched in January 2020, and will be trained in software development at Launch Academy in downtown Boston. She encourages people to apply in September, but said Apprenti will always have cohorts in planning.