X Years of Talent | New Apprenticeship: Brad Voeller
Merillat Flowers (00:01):
10 years ago, roughly half of Indiana's college graduates remained in the state upon graduation, this number was even lower for STEM degrees, as many of these students found opportunities and offers in major tech hubs. It was in the face of this problem that TechPoint launched the exter program, a 10 week internship program that employs hundreds of college students in roles at local tech companies in this circuit miniseries 10 years of talent, TechPoint interviews the major players in Indiana's tech landscape from talent organizations to the people who were there at the beginning of extern. We look back at the past decade of Indiana's talent initiative and look towards the future of Indiana's tech workforce.
Merillat Flowers (01:09):
Well, Brad, thanks so much for sitting down with me today. It's such a pleasure to get to be with you in person and get to talk a little bit about our partnership and the great work that your team does, um, here in Indiana.
Brad Voeller (01:17):
Thank you. Exciting to be here. And this is inspiration,
Merillat Flowers (01:20):
Isn't it? Yeah. It's quite the backdrop by the backdrop. Well, I think the best place to start is for folks who aren't familiar, give us a little bit of a taste of what does new apprenticeship do? What is your mission?
Brad Voeller (01:31):
Yeah, so we partner with employers, delivering them with an integrated solution for early career talent. Mm-hmm.
Merillat Flowers (02:29):
Yeah. And that makes a huge difference. It's been so fun getting to see your team do that over the course of this year and the game changer that it is for employers to work with you in that way. Yes. I know this work is personal, so I would love to ask a little bit more about how you got involved in this work, why it's so important to you, your team, what you see as
Brad Voeller (02:46):
Is possible, you Yeah. It's personal to our entire team. Uh, and just speaking briefly to some of our leaders in the team, our VP of digital transformation, he saw firsthand the challenges of going through traditional education as he had the privilege of getting into an H B C U and getting some great education there, but seeing a lot of his peers who couldn't have access to those opportunities and wanting to have that broader access. Our, uh, VP of national partnerships or a geis, um, she is amazing at bringing together, uh, funding and other broader partnerships. But her, uh, start in her professional career was going directly in the workforce as a first generation, um, uh, immigrant, Mexican American, really forging that pathway in her family. And now she's just making the same for many, many others. Myself. Um, I came from a very large family and my parents said, we don't have money to send you to college.
Brad Voeller (03:44):
You're on your own for that. And so I had to be, uh, resourceful and learn from people who had the experience. And through that mentoring, through that growth was able to really determine what I want to do in life. Uh, what, what's that? What's that call that I'm excited about? And began to get the skills needed to really activate that. And it was a fantastic education, but I didn't have any kind of formal credentials around it. It was later in life that I went through the process of getting those credentials. And so I just know it can be really challenging to figure out these pathways and you don't have the kinds of coaches, mentors, um, to, to help make it easier.
Merillat Flowers (04:25):
Yeah. Well, it's a great segue because I think the next question is really about how the tech industry embraces apprenticeship. And we've heard that be one of the great challenges. What are the pathways? What are the credentials? How do I get into this? Uh, so when you think of apprenticeship, I think many people get triggered and think about construction trades or other, um, jobs that have been more historically aligned to apprenticeship pathways. So what does it look like for tech to adapt this? What are you seeing across the country with the tech industry?
Brad Voeller (04:52):
So, uh, triggered, uh, a lot of people are by the word apprenticeship. Yeah. And they think it means, uh, unions, they think it means traditional trades. Um, a lot of things that it, it could, but in a tech, um, world, it really doesn't have those connotations. It's, it's a framework. The Department of Labor has, uh, developed with employers to make it very systematic how competencies are developed within an occupation. So we're supporting occupations like data analytics, cybersecurity, it, service management. Um, these are in demand. Uh, they are skills that are learned best on the job, but how do you really structure those skills? How do you determine that when learning in side one company is more broadly relevant within the, the industry with a, with a number of companies? And so that's what the Department of Labor registration process can really help, is to ensure that we're providing this pathway that is gonna result in a lot of career mobility for an apprentice.
Brad Voeller (05:55):
And, and the data proves us out. Um, I just was with, uh, department of Labor for a, uh, employer convening yesterday. Yeah. And one of the points that they brought out was that over the course of an apprentice's career, there's initial $300,000 of earnings that are created. So just a lot of advantages for apprentices and for the companies in this as well. So speaking specifically of tech, a lot of the skills that are needed today, let's say AWS Cloud, well, every six months there's some new, uh, feature that that's released, right? Um, in ServiceNow we have the newest, uh, upgrade every six months. So you don't really learn that from being in school for X number of years. It's learned on the job and these, these, uh, skills where you access people that have them, you have to really go and find those that are learning on the job. So if you're not thinking creatively as an employer, how do I provide that opportunity for people to come in and, and practice learn those skills, then you're really missing out on that future tech workforce because it's the only way to create it within the context of, of the work.
Merillat Flowers (07:11):
Brad Voeller (07:22):
Absolutely. What we're very excited about this focus around skills-based hiring, that's part of the Mission 41 [inaudible] movement. Mm-hmm.
Merillat Flowers (08:29):
That's awesome. Well, we're proud of the fact that Indiana has obviously engaged in a lot of talent work over the past 10 years. We're having this conversation as part of the backdrop of Exter extern, our internship program Yes. Reaching its 10th year, um, as a program. And you've obviously been in the game, in the talent space for a while as well,
Brad Voeller (08:47):
For, for 20 years.
Merillat Flowers (08:48):
Yeah. So I would love to hear your national perspective on how you have seen the talent marketplace evolve in the past, past 10 years, um, as you've been doing your work.
Brad Voeller (08:58):
There's been, uh, a lot of changes. Uh, for sure. There's now the recognition that we need to have a much more inclusive, uh, tech ecosystem. Uh, we've been talking about that for a long time, but now it seems that there's real action. There's, uh, numbers, there's metrics around it. And, uh, most, uh, sophisticated tech organizations, they are measuring and, and they're creating accountability around that. So that's one big difference. Um, another thing is we see this shift towards like low-code and no-code platforms. So we do a lot of apprentice, uh, launching apprenticeships into career through the ServiceNow platform. And it's amazing to see how our apprentices can get into an environment that is, um, you know, very high impact in terms of the digital transformation that's happening for the stakeholders that they're serving, using these platforms. And they can, um, execute that change with very little, um, understanding or prior training around code.
Brad Voeller (10:03):
Yeah. We can, you know, give them, uh, foundation and then show them the key, uh, to using that platform effectively. They can get in and deliver significant value very quickly. So, um, that certainly is a change that we've seen. And so it really is an opportunity for those tech leaders who maybe came up through the ranks with more traditional training to reevaluate, do I need to have, um, a degree, a CS degree in order to come and be successful here? Or can we use the maj the amazing, uh, capabilities that are available to us to allow more people to be part of this digital transformation work that is just so key today. And the final point, you know, it's, um, we say, uh, code is, is eating the world, right? And everything now is, is is tech enabled, or, uh, tech is at the center of the value that we deliver to, uh, customers.
Brad Voeller (11:00):
So whether you're in insurance, manufacturing, every company's a tech company, so the need for this talent, you can't just outsource that. Um, that's your brain. Like that's how you're going to figure out a, uh, a differentiation in value for the customer. So you need to have those capabilities in-house supported by your external tech partners. So that means the demand for this talent is not going away. It's just going to, you know, continue. And if we use the playbook, a broken playbook to support that, we're never gonna get there. Yeah. So it, that also is something that's really forcing leaders to say, in order to get to the kind of outcomes and the roi, we have to do it by methods like, like apprenticeship, embracing.
Merillat Flowers (11:49):
That's awesome. Well, it's exciting to imagine where we'll be if we sit down and have this conversation again in 10 years. Yes. Because of how much has already evolved, and you've obviously been hanging out with Hoosiers now for a while. Curious about what your perspective is on what you think are our biggest opportunities as a state to grow?
Brad Voeller (12:07):
I love the, um, the fact that Indiana works together as a, a state, and I know there are, uh, the, the, the differences, but I think there's a, overcoming those differences in figuring out how can we move together in that, in that, uh, common ground. Um, you know, I, I live in Texas and in Texas we have, uh, just a very, uh, sometimes disjointed, uh, policy where every city seems to be doing its own thing here. There's an opportunity, I think, to bring more of, of a unified focus to that. So how can we put in place, um, a, a model for apprenticeship that whether you're in Indianapolis or Fort Wayne, uh, wherever you are, uh, it can be implemented effectively. Um, had the privilege of meeting with, um, Indiana and Department of Workforce this morning and just talking about how we can create some of those, um, models that are, that can be replicated across all, I think it's 11 workforce regions across the state.
Brad Voeller (13:13):
So that's gonna be a big part of the story here in Indiana. Yeah. Um, because apprenticeship at, at the federal level, you're shaping the policy, how it's implemented, and then that trickles down to the state level. And so when a state really gets behind that vision, it's, it's powerful. And Tech Point is really uniquely positioned as the voice of technology in the state, really developing that homegrown talent, attracting talent to the state. So having that kind of a, uh, very thoughtful strategy around apprenticeship that then, um, at the state level, the local workforce board level through the education and workforce partners can gather around that. Um, it's gonna be transformative already. We're seeing that with the employers that we're celebrating tomorrow. Uh, I mean, that, that's significant progress in just a short period of time. So think about 10 years from now. Yeah. Yeah. Just, just can't wait to be there.
Merillat Flowers (14:06):
Can't, can't wait. Well, give us a sneak peek as we close out here. What's on the horizons for new apprenticeship,
Brad Voeller (14:14):
Uh, for, uh, new apprenticeship? I think it's gonna just follow really the trajectory of apprenticeship in this country more, more broadly. Um, if we had the level of apprentice apprenticeship participation that we see in the uk, there'd be 10 times number apprenticeships created. We have about half a million today, so think about 5 million apprenticeships, right? Think about, uh, today in the state of Indiana, you know, around four, almost 5,000 apprentices. Um, and, and to have a tenfold increase in that, um, I believe that we'll certainly get there within the next 10 years. And, uh, for new, new apprenticeship to have, um, a significant role in, in supporting that. I think about, you know, personally, uh, the journey that I've been through and what I want for my kids, um, I'm excited to see them pursue apprenticeship. And you don't hear, you haven't heard in the past, a lot of, uh, professionals, um, express that kind of desire for their own kids.
Brad Voeller (15:12):
And I've got my 14 year old, 12, nine year old, and, uh, my wife and I talk about how even a couple years we want our oldest daughter to begin experiencing apprenticeship. And, and now it's not a trade off of you're going to college, you're doing apprenticeship. Those two integrate together. Um, that's the model that we're advancing. So we are excited about expanding those partnerships where, you know, there's more employers, there's more universities involved, and, and just the optionality to begin where you don't have to go into debt, pay out of pocket, your employer is funding this. So that's what new apprenticeship is all about. And, uh, the future, it's, it's, it's already here, really, it just, you know, it, it's in narrow pockets and we're gonna see that, um, adopted broadly.
Merillat Flowers (16:03):
It's a really exciting vision. It has been such a joy to get to know and learn from you and your team, and I can't wait for all that's ahead. So thanks for sitting down
Brad Voeller (16:10):
With me, and we're so grateful for the partnership with TechPoint. It's been incredible. And this is just the beginning.
Merillat Flowers (16:15):
Just the beginning. Here we go. Awesome. Thanks Brad.
We sit down with Brad Voeller, founder and CEO of New Apprenticeship. New Apprenticeship is a Department of Labor registered apprenticeship for tech-skilled positions. He talks about the story behind founding New Apprenticeship, why apprenticeships are key in building an inclusive workforce, and their partnership with TechPoint with Mission41K.