Pre-apprenticeship program preparing Pennsylvanians for IT careers

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HARRISBURG – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier today visited a Harrisburg-based Pre-Apprenticeship program that provides in-demand skills training for Pennsylvanians interested in family-sustaining careers in information technology.

NuPaths, based at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, is among 26 recent recipients of grants totaling more than $11 million recently announced through Governor Tom Wolf’s PA Statewide Movement for Accountability, Readiness and Training (PAsmart) program for workforce development throughout the commonwealth.

NuPaths facilitates six-month programs designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in related registered apprenticeships and pursue a career in information technology

– specifically targeting underrepresented groups such as people changing careers, individuals who are underemployed or unemployed, veterans, re-entrants and recent high school graduates. After completion, participants can be hired by employers as interns, apprentices, or full-time employees.

Harrisburg University supports the program with access to classrooms and faculty.

“Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is going strong, and with economic growth comes the need for a well-educated and skilled workforce. With employees retiring at greater rates than young people entering the workforce, the biggest difficulty facing workforce development will be helping employers fill that skills gap and connecting with a skilled workforce,” said Berrier. “Apprenticeship programs like this one offered by NuPaths are an effective way to prepare workers to enter a Registered Apprenticeship and fill the skills gap employers are seeing locally in their workforce recruitment.”

With its most recent PAsmart grant, NuPaths plans to design and develop four distance-learning pre-apprenticeship training programs: digital marketing assistant, associate website developer, software testing analyst and project analyst.

“We thank Governor Wolf and Secretary Berrier for awarding the latest PAsmart grant to us,” said Pankaj Agarwal, CEO of NuPaths. “This funding will allow us to train 30 pre-apprentices from Northeast High School in Philadelphia School District as technical support specialists, and 50 youth or adult pre-apprentices across Pennsylvania as IT security analysts, network technicians, digital marketing assistants, and associate website developers to be hired as apprentices. It will have tremendous impact on the lives of so many citizens of Pennsylvania.”

Established in 2016, L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO) supports and expands registered apprenticeship programs statewide.  As a part of Governor Wolf’s PAsmart framework, the office provides outreach, education and technical support to current and prospective apprenticeship program sponsors and apprentices. The ATO aims to expand the apprenticeship model to non-traditional occupations and ensure apprenticeship opportunities are available to under-represented communities across the commonwealth.  The ATO currently supports more than 17,000 active apprentices, nearly 5,000 new apprentices and more than 1,500 active occupation-specific apprenticeship programs around the commonwealth.

The Wolf Administration has directly invested $28 million in Pennsylvania apprenticeship programs since 2018, focused on increasing academic training in computer sciences, science, technology, engineering, and math education to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce. The latest round of grant funding supports apprenticeship programs with a specific focus on diverse talent pipelines and underserved populations, non-traditional occupations, and alignment with secondary and post-secondary educational institutions for occupations in agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, IT, education, human services, building trades and more. Governor Wolf’s 2022-23 budget proposal includes an additional $7 million investment for apprenticeship.

L&I estimates that, on average, apprentices earn a starting wage of $70,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more than other workers over their careers. Nearly nine out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing their apprenticeship. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity.

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