10.31.19

Apprenticeships give a CHANCE in tech for All

We live in an era of rapid technological change, powered by constant innovation and old-fashioned American ingenuity. From hotel chains and virtual reality companies to hospitals and “mom and pop” online retailers, technology is powering the ability to sell, market, and thrive in the United States. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and encouraging proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity. The treats of being connected digitally also bring the tricks of needing a well-trained workforce to keep our country a global leader in technology, and we believe apprenticeships can tackle the skills gap in the technology industry.

CompTIA, a non-profit technology trade association, estimates that technology industry growth could reach up to 7 percent in 2018. In 2016, the average salary in the technology sector was $108,000, double the average salary in all other industry sectors. As the field continues to grow, opportunities for new jobs, career advancement, and solutions to society’s most vexing problems become increasingly important.

The most critical resource for the technology industry is its people. We need more qualified and skilled workers across the technology industry, whether as cybersecurity experts, coders, software programmers, or any others. These workers help maintain and secure our critical infrastructure, improve opportunities for expansion of advances like telemedicine, build smart cities for the future, and more.

However, we are having trouble meeting the demand for technology workers. During any given 90-day period there can be more than 500,000 technology job openings in the United States. Meanwhile, tech employment is growing twice as fast as employment across the rest of U.S. job sectors. This lack of available tech workers hinders our ability to fill IT jobs from Pueblo to Peabody.

As policymakers, we need to ensure that private industry has all of the tools and infrastructure needed for the technology industry to reach its potential. That includes improving workforce opportunities through expanding access to apprenticeships. And that’s why more than 20 of our House and Senate colleagues joined us in introducing the CHANCE in Tech Act (H.R.1733/S.777).

Our bill would go a long way toward providing the kind of incentives needed to make apprenticeships more widely available. Our bill expands on industry and intermediary best practices and is focused on employer hiring needs, training workers, and mitigating costs to the employer by allowing them to pay reasonable salaries to their apprentices while they acquire the skills today’s economy demands.

Apprenticeships have been used for centuries to train different types of workforces. They have been the on-ramp to careers as diverse as a blacksmith, electrician, plumber or welder. And we know technology apprenticeships can be even more valuable as those skills are transferable across nearly all industries.

Our bill will help provide companies with a pipeline of newly trained job candidates and will enable those who have felt left behind by today’s technology boom to chart a new career course – from the 18-year-old high school graduate to the 35-year-old military veteran to the 40-year-old career changer.

The bipartisan CHANCE in Tech Act is a solution-focused partnership designed to tackle the skills gap, one of the biggest challenges facing the technology industry. We hope Congress acts quickly to pass this legislation to keep our country’s technology industry well-trained and competitive around the world.

 

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)

The Hill