Apprentice Brigade has been participating in the education ecosystem since 2010, attending Industry Advisory meetings, participating in grant writing workshops, and operating internships. During this time we’ve learned a lot about the public education system, career pathways from K-12 through college, and how to create and effectively teach technical curriculum.
The existing public education system is good at providing a foundation of technical concepts, as well as offering education tracks that conclude with a technical certification or associate degree. The public education system is limited however in that they are unable to deliver advanced technical curriculum that can stay current with the needs of tech employers. The problem is twofold. The funding cycle for the community college system is inverse to the demand. That is to say when there is the highest demand for “re-training” curriculum such as in an economic downturn, there is less funding available. The second issue is that technology moves too quickly for college curriculum to keep pace, and historically industry does not do enough to define and drive curriculum needs.
In order to bridge the skills gap between college curriculum and job requirements, we teach our apprentices in an immersive environment. As a professional services organization, we document the common projects and procedures driven by customer demand. Not only does this promote good internal quality assurance, it provides a framework for creating curriculum and teaching technical skills in a lab environment. In the lab the apprentice is able to troubleshoot complex problems, learn best practices, and free to fail in a safe environment. These are not simple scenarios analogous to writing a “hello world” program, these are complex scenarios that are aligned with the real world problems we have to solve for our customers every day. In this environment we are also afforded the opportunity to impress upon the apprentice the bigger picture beyond the task at hand. Just think of the difference between being handed a recipe to cook a meal on your own, vs. being instructed by a professional chef who can pass on important nuances which are lost in translation.
Once an apprentice has developed a proven competency for a given task, they can then be trusted to begin work for our customers under the close supervision of a Journeyman employee. Many technical projects are first built into development environment where they can be scrutinized through our quality assurance and control processes prior to being released to a production environment. This provides an amazing capability to teach apprentices how to become masters in technology while at the same time ensuring the product delivered to the customer is at the highest quality through strict processes.
During the course of the apprenticeship the apprentice’s knowledge tested and work is reviewed for completeness. In addition, for each year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice is required to pass an industry recognized certification (if applicable) in order to demonstrate their technical competency.
Apprentice Brigade will employ a full time apprenticeship coordinator who will be tasked with the management of curriculum, conducting of learning sessions, supervising apprentices in the lab, and grading their performance. We believe this position is best filled by a present or former computer science and/or computer information systems instructor. If you feel you are a fit for this position, please contact us to discuss this opportunity.