When most people think of an “apprenticeship,” they tend to think about industries, like construction or manufacturing. And while these industries certainly use apprentices, the apprenticeship model can also be adapted successfully into other sectors, like information technology (IT).

Under a typical apprenticeship model, a job seeker can obtain paid employment, education, and industry-recognized credentials. This is all usually accomplished at the same time or in short succession. The apprenticeship model has several advantages over traditional employment models because it allows the job seeker to earn a competitive wage while learning on the job. And when the apprenticeship is complete workers earn credentials that lead to career opportunities and growth.

National Able Network supports the apprenticeship model and has adapted it to be successful in the IT industry through the IT Career Lab program and its partnership with Cisco Meraki. “Our Cisco Meraki apprentices have the ability to earn their CCENT, CCNA as well as training on Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS,” said IT Career Lab and National Able Network Vice President of Social Enterprise, Matt Weis.

In IT Career Lab, the apprentices complete classroom training and certification, including hands-on training with Cisco Meraki engineers on-site, before entering the job market. After the classroom portion of the apprenticeship program is complete the apprentices are invited to interview for full-time positions with Cisco Meraki. “The hands-on training portion of the apprenticeship has been customized to fit the employer’s needs and has been a great way for apprentices to gain exposure and experience using the technology alongside actual Cisco employees in a real-world setting,” Weis said.

Apprenticeships are also a good alternative to traditional post-secondary education models. According to Weis, they are “critical to making sure that career-changers and other non-traditional students are able to enter good paying jobs in a high growth industry without having to pursue a college degree or take on mountains of educational debt.”

If you are interested in learning more about IT Career Lab and other apprenticeship programs, drop by the Near West American Job Center on Thursday, October 10th at 9AM for the Apprenticeship Resource Fair. Otherwise, we invite you to complete our job seekers contact form at www.ITCareerLab.org.