AT&T has created a new IT apprenticeship program with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI).
The new program with NOVA offers information technology training and on-the-job experience to NOVA students and seeks to create a larger pool of talent for AT&T to meet the needs of federal customers in the National Security sector.
Why is this important? Demand for qualified information technology talent is persistently high and is expected to remain so for many years to come. According to CompTIA, U.S. employers seeking to hire information technology professionals averaged 850,000 quarterly job postings during 2020 and technology occupations are projected to grow 2X versus overall employment in the U.S. economy during the 2020-2030 period.
According to Chmura Economics, Northern Virginia accounts for over half of the state’s IT jobs and projections indicate ~ 11,000 IT jobs will need to be filled in the Northern Virginia region each year over the next decade. Based on online job postings compiled by Burning Glass Technologies, security clearances are among the chief requirements of government technology employers.
How do students benefit from their participation in the new IT apprenticeship program at NOVA? As part-time AT&T employees, participating apprentices will train at NOVA’s Reston complex while on-the-job training will combine in-person and virtual training at AT&T’s Oakton facility. The training curriculum is designed to be completed in two years while student participants have their background clearances processed. The federal government will sponsor these security clearances while apprentices are being trained in the program.
Those who complete the program will graduate with 2,000 hours of on-the-job training in technical, soft skills, lab work and related skills. They will also be required and supported to achieve 5 industry certifications in A+, Network+, Security+, CCNA and ITIL. These are established and highly sought information technology training programs in IT technical, operational, program and asset management. Apprentices who successfully complete the technical training and are approved for a federal government security clearance are expected to transition to full-time employment at AT&T and support its work for federal agencies.
How do government agencies benefit? The AT&T IT apprenticeship program, AT&T Catapult, has seen success in Maryland at Howard County Community College where it was launched in 2019. This new program with NOVA is an expansion of AT&T Catapult.
AT&T’s Catapult aims to develop a trained pool of entry-level IT talent that can support National Security agency mission outcomes from “Day 1.” Benefits to agencies can also include shared talent development costs with industry, reduced talent churn, a lower cost point on entry-level positions, and the availability of talent whose training is tailored to support critical entry-level roles.
The program complements similar AT&T student recruitment programs and government efforts to recognize nano degrees and targeted certifications—not just four-year degrees—as an effective workforce alternative for filling selected Top Secret Level clearance positions in federal information technology contracting.
When does AT&T’s Catapult Program at NOVA begin? Applications for the program will be accepted from August 26 to September 23. Qualifying students can expect to be accepted into the program by late October, with classes beginning in January 2022. More information can be found at NOVA’s Career Services site.
What qualifications are required for students to participate in AT&T’s Catapult program at NOVA?
To be considered for the program, students must be at least 18 years old, American citizens and Virginia residents. There are other qualifications as well. Information sessions explaining the program will be offered virtually on August 26th, August 30th, and September 1.
Jill Singer, Vice President- Defense and National Security, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet, said, “Identifying and hiring qualified information technology talent continues to be a challenge for federal agencies. In particular, National Security agencies face challenges such as high-level security clearances and a need for specific IT skill sets which can make it even harder for them to grow their talent base. Our new IT Apprenticeship program with Northern Virginia Community College expands on the success we’re having at Howard County Community College and allows us to further help agencies address their specific entry-level IT talent needs to deliver their missions.”
Steven Partridge, Vice President of Strategy, Research and Workforce Innovation, Northern Virginia Community College, commented, “Information technology jobs in our region are projected to grow, on average, 1.5 percent each year over the next decade – three times the regional average for all jobs – and we currently have more information technology jobs open in Northern Virginia than people qualified to fill these critical roles. Building the IT talent pipeline for the Northern Virginia region is crucial and NOVA is proud to partner with AT&T to provide an innovative opportunity for our current and former students to launch their IT careers.”