WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced the bipartisan Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in Tech) Act, legislation to create earlier pathways to high-paying careers in the information technology (IT) industry.
Preparation for IT careers can begin in high school and continue through training programs and apprenticeships. Apprenticeships allow technology companies to directly train and hire the workers they need while ensuring that participants have the specific skills employers are looking for upon completion. Alternative education models that include industry-led work-based learning will help fill the thousands of job openings currently available in technology fields and spur further economic growth.
“High-paying IT jobs don’t always follow the traditional four-year degree path. That’s why it’s important to increase access to training programs and apprenticeships as early as high school,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to strengthen the STEM pipeline for careers in New Mexico and boost our state’s vibrant technology economy.”
“Apprenticeships give people hands-on learning opportunities to learn technical skills to benefit them in their careers,” said Moran. “Aligning tech training with industry demands will help meet local workforce needs in Kansas and across the nation.”
The CHANCE in Tech Act:
- Instructs the Department of Labor to award contracts to industry intermediaries to develop apprenticeships in the technology sector.
- Defines industry intermediaries as entities that serve as a conduit between employers, training partners, and government bodies. These intermediaries have the capacity to help broker new tech-sector partnerships and identify workforce trends. Intermediaries would form collaborations between private sector industries and training programs.
- Makes apprenticeships available to high school students, early college STEM students, and post-secondary students.
- Establishes the “CHANCE in TECH Awards for 21st Century Schools” award that would go to schools that demonstrate high achievement in providing students with the necessary skills to compete in the 21st century workforce.
This legislation has been designed in partnership with the New Mexico Technology Council, an association of about 150 businesses in New Mexico’s technology business sector.
“Building and developing local talent in the IT area will be critical to New Mexico's economic recovery and ongoing work to diversify the state's economy,” said Deborah Breitfeld, CEcD, Executive Director & CEO of the New Mexico Technology Council. “We are excited to support the CHANCE in Tech Act, which will help build this local talent for local companies and serve as an incentive for even more companies to do business in New Mexico.”
Inspiration for the apprenticeship program came from the New Mexico Information Technology Apprenticeship Program (NMITAP). A branch of CNM Ingenuity, Inc. NMITAP is developing apprenticeships in high-quality, high-growth careers in Information and Health Technology. CNM Ingenuity is a nonprofit that helps Central New Mexico Community College pursue cooperative ventures in technology and entrepreneurship and provides skills training.
“We are very encouraged by the CHANCE in Tech Act and its goal to increase technology apprenticeship opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds and put them on a clear path to high-quality, good-paying careers,” said Tracy Hartzler, President of Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). “Our New Mexico Information Technology Apprenticeship Program (NMITAP), which was launched through a Department of Labor grant, serves as a shining example for public-private collaboration on apprenticeships. NMITAP has helped companies of all sizes in New Mexico identify and develop the skilled IT employees they need with CNM providing support every step of the way. The CHANCE in Tech Act would help to greatly increase these opportunities for employers and apprentices while addressing the critical tech workforce needs that will continue growing by the day.”
A copy of the CHANCE in Tech Act, also cosponsored by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is available here.