Annandale, Va. – Starting next week, Northern Virginia Community College will begin accepting applications for a new information technology (IT) apprenticeship program created with AT&T and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI). The program offers NOVA students IT training and on-the-job experience with AT&T and seeks to create a larger pool of talent to meet the needs of federal customers in the National Security sector.
“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,” said Jill Singer, vice president – defense and national security, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet. “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.”
Nationally, the 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.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Northern Virginia accounts for over half of the state’s IT jobs and projections indicate that more than 11,000 IT jobs will need to be filled in the 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.
“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,” said Steve Partridge, vice president of strategy, research and workforce innovation at NOVA. “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.”
The AT&T IT apprenticeship program, AT&T Catapult, has seen success in Maryland at Howard County Community College since its 2019 launch. 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 talent development costs that are reduced and/or shared with industry, reduced talent churn, 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.
As part-time AT&T employees, participating apprentices will take classes 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.
To qualify, students must be at least 18 years old, American citizens and Virginia residents. Information sessions explaining the program will be offered virtually on August 26, August 30, and September 1. For program specific questions please contact Megan Moore-Sobel at email@example.com.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.