National Apprenticeship Week


(Oregons first Journey Level Software Developers (L-R) Sharon Miller, Alex Hanson and Connor Crossely | Photo courtesy of East Cascades Works)

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), now in its fifth year, is a nationwide celebration that gives businesses, communities and educators the opportunity to showcase their apprenticeship programs and apprentices while providing valuable information to career seekers. NAW 2019 will be held November 11-17.

To celebrate this special week, East Cascades Works would like to highlight Oregon’s tech apprenticeship program, Apprenti. In partnership with Technology Association of Oregon, Heather Ficht and her team at East Cascades Works, identified and secured funding and support to bring Apprenti to Central Oregon.

“We heard from our tech industry partners about their desperate need for software developers that exceeded the number of graduates from our local educational institutions could immediately provide. This was the impetus to search for an alternative but complimentary solution,” said Heather Ficht, executive director at East Cascades Works. In the true spirit of Central Oregon’s innovation and partnership, implementing a BOLI registered tech apprentice program has opened an additional pipeline of talent running alongside the talent coming out of OSU-Cascades and with Central Oregon Community College (COCC).

East Cascade Works also partnered with Central Oregon Community College (COCC Continuing Education) who is equipped to deliver the 22-week, full time certified technical training. DevStation | COCC offers non-credit basic to advanced Software Development courses for individuals new to programming through professionals looking to learn advanced skills.

Rachel Knox, program manager for DevStation | COCC, describes the classroom experience as an “immersive program that quickly transitions students from little to no tech experience to performance-driven employees.”

“Students receive intensive tech training through daily coding challenges and complex lab assignments,” says Lead Instructor Calvin Cheng. “Individual, pair, and mob programming along with team-developed portfolio-ready projects provide contextual soft skills development alongside technical learning.”

Apprenti is a great opportunity for individuals 18 or older looking to pursue their first career in software development or for those looking to make a career change. While experience is not necessary, Apprenti is a hybrid competency and time-based program, therefore individuals interested in participating, must have a strong determination to complete this rigorous training program.

Once the apprentices demonstrate the required competencies and complete their course work, they begin working and training on-the-job as a junior software developer for one year of full-time and benefited employment. During the first 6 months the have a prorated salary and are paid 70 percent of the salary of a full-time software developer, which increases to 80 percent during the remaining months. At the end of the 12 months they are considered journey-level software developers and their training employer can elect to hire them on full-time, at full salary.

On November 22, Sharon Miller, Alex Hanson and Connor Crossley will fully graduate after completing over 2728 hours of training. These three apprentices are Oregon’s first Journey Level Software Developers.

Both Miller and Hanson have been hired on permanently with Five Talent and Crossley has been hired by CBT Nuggets. Five Talent and CBT Nuggets were two of Oregon’s first employers to partner with East Cascades Works and TAO pioneering the way for other employers in the area.

“Building great software and products is as much about the people as it is the technology”, said Sean Sullivan, chief technology officer at CBT Nuggets. “Apprenti offers an avenue for motivated, hardworking, and intelligent individuals to enter the software profession with confidence via an apprentice relationship with employers. We are grateful to the program for introducing us to Connor, a rising star in this craft, and we look forward to meeting more future teammates through this partnership.”

On August 22, five more apprentices completed their classroom training and are working and training on the job at Five Talent and Navis. They are all on track to graduate into their journey level status on August 5, 2020.

Here is what Gabriel Gayton, software development manager at Navis had to say about his experience working with tech apprentices. “We’re really enjoying working with Matt and training him on the life cycle of Software Development and Agile practices. He is contributing to the implementation of interfaces, as well as conducting research, testing and deployment. He’s doing a great job and has an awesome attitude to learn and contribute.”

Currently, nine students are completing their pre-apprenticeship coursework at COCC and will be eligible to move into the registered apprentice program on January 6, 2020. They will begin their on-the-job training on March 23, 2020.

Teri Hockett, VP of Technology Association of Oregon explains that, “Many Central Oregon employers are revising how they search for talent and are realizing they need to explore alternative methods to find the person with the right skills that fit in addition to possessing a matching attitude, aptitude and cultural fit. Companies appreciate the Apprenti program because it combines both the technical training followed by the on- the-job training, resulting in amazingly talented and loyal employees”.

We are currently seeking additional employer partners who are interested in hiring on an apprentice with their organization. If your business is interested in hiring a software developer apprentice, or if you have an occupation in the tech industry that you feel would be a great addition to tech apprenticeships please contact Stefanie Siebold at or Teri Hockett at •


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