Cranston, RI - This morning, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and the RI Department of Labor and Training cosigned an authorization for the state's first apprenticeship program in information technology. The program, submitted by Atrion Networking Corporation, creates an Internetworking Associate Apprentice Program that includes 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 272 hours of related classroom instruction. The signing occurred at the monthly meeting of the state's workforce policy-making body, the Governor's Workforce Board.
Previously, Rhode Island's active apprenticeship programs had been limited to construction and manufacturing occupations, such as carpenters, electricians, iron workers, pipefitters and machinists. Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by joint employer and labor groups, individual employers and/or employer associations.
Governor Chafee stated, "Moving the traditional apprenticeship model into non-traditional settings, such as the IT world, is a smart training strategy. It allows participants to work while they learn, and it requires businesses to be very involved in both the design and the delivery of skills training."
"Our goal is to educate and train entry-level technicians in both the practical and theoretical aspects of the customized technology process," said Jamie Boughman, apprentice program manager at the Warwick-based Atrion Networking Corp. "In the future, we hope to expand our apprenticeship model to include stackable credentials for upward mobility within our organization."
The one-year Internetworking Associate Apprentice Program includes classroom learning in Microsoft Server Foundations, Cisco Unified Communications and Routing and Switching concepts as well as soft skill training in customer service and workplace expectations. Apprentices will also shadow senior engineers in the field; these same engineers will provide critical mentoring and coaching.
Director of Labor and Training Charles J. Fogarty added, "Atrion has created a new apprenticeship model for Rhode Island that is not only helpful to Atrion but to any other IT company that would like to launch a similar internship, because Atrion has already established the standard for curriculum." Fogarty adds that any worker who completes the Internetworking Associate Apprentice Program now has a recognized and portable credential in the IT industry.
Bernard Treml, supervisor of apprenticeship at the RI Department of Labor and Training, stated that Information Technology is the first of what the department hopes are future non-traditional apprenticeships. He added that the department recently has engaged in preliminary talks with businesses in the health care, hospitality and marine trades to discuss possible apprenticeship training programs in their industries.