Community outreach in the US: uncovering exceptional talent for professional apprenticeships

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Multiverse is growing fast. In the past year, we’ve tripled our number of apprentices – despite the pandemic. This wasn’t an easy task and was only made possible by our relationships with schools and community partners.

We’re now excited to build on this momentum. This means forging more relationships with community organizations to ensure professional apprenticeships reach young people currently underrepresented across many corporate sectors. It’s about equity of opportunity.

Creating an outstanding alternative to college

The past year has disrupted 'normal' for a number of folks. It’s also given us an opportunity to rebuild systems that traditionally haven’t served a vast number of people. Specifically - access to education and gainful employment.

Even before the pandemic, we were seeing signs of change. In 2019; 250,000 new apprenticeships were created in the US, the highest number in a decade. Now we want to push that figure higher. This is vital given the context of the current economic crisis, which has generally been hardest on younger workers(opens new window).

What is a professional apprenticeship?

Put simply, it’s a 12+ month applied learning experience focused on developing relevant, in demand skills. Apprentices are fully employed from day one and earn while they learn – at no cost to the individual. Open to all ages, people can reskill at any stage of their career.

Through this model, people who don’t hold a bachelor’s degree can start a career in tech without the upfront cost colleges and many boot camps require. This eliminates a huge barrier to further education. While on the job, apprentices apply their learning immediately and receive real-time feedback in their role.

An incredible vehicle for social mobility

We recently sat on a panel hosted by one of our partners, Blacks In Technology(opens new window). When discussing the advantages of apprenticeships, so many attendees were excited about the prospect of learning and earning without having to juggle several jobs.

Apprenticeships have the potential to be an incredible vehicle for social mobility. According to the US Treasury, Americans owe over $1.71 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among 44.7 million borrowers. This cost bars many folks from pursuing a degree, while also becoming an obstacle to mobility whether they graduate or not.

Apprenticeships acknowledge this inequality – and tackle it. Cartomu Kabba, a data apprentice says: “Multiverse apprenticeships give young people like me more options. We don't have to worry about our financial situation, while getting an education that's relevant and useful.”

Talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not

Our Outreach Team is dedicated to reaching young people who have historically been left out. A McKinsey Global Survey(opens new window) found that 87% of executives identify skill gaps in their workforce or expect them within a few years. We know the talent is out there. So how do we find it?

The answer is a three-pronged outreach strategy. This involves:

  1. High School & Community College Liaison Programs: We help students understand all their options while they’re still in high school. This means engaging with principals, teachers and counselors to share the apprenticeship model. We also facilitate meetings with guardians and students to answer any questions. The goal is to ensure all parties understand how to access opportunities – and how to navigate them to completion.
  2. Tech-focused outreach: We partner with tech-focused community groups like Generation US and Code Nation to reach young people from groups underrepresented within the tech industry. We’re excited about the opportunities this allows us to provide. Through our partnership with Generation US, young people completed an intensive tech bootcamp and were able to progress to our professional apprenticeships at top Fortune 100 companies. Hani Mohamad, Alumni Manager at Code Nation, sums up this point nicely: "It's all about supporting our Code Nation students as they navigate their journey into tech – whether they go the traditional college route or decide that an alternative program is best for them. The apprenticeship program has a meaningful impact on students who want to explore alternative pathways to college where they can learn new skills, receive personalized support, and be part of a global community."
  3. Missioned aligned-partnerships: We work extensively with youth organizations who help young people into employment and training – particularly those overcoming barriers to entry. These organizations include The Youth Employment Partnership, Inc.(opens new window) and Phipps Neighborhoods(opens new window).

The time for change is now

Democratizing access to the best careers has never been more critical. Currently, 41% of college graduates are underemployed(opens new window) – working in jobs that don’t require a degree.

By providing real alternatives for young people, we can open up a better future for them and their families, our country’s businesses, and our wider economy.

We’re excited by what we’ve accomplished during a difficult year. Now it’s time to look forward and keep growing our partnerships in 2021!

Afua Laast

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