<![CDATA[Washington Technology Industry Association | WTIA ]]> Follow Washington Technology Industry Association | WTIA , filter it, and define how you want to receive the news (via Email, RSS, Telegram, WhatsApp etc.) http://follow.it/washington-technology-industry-association-wtia Mon, 03 Apr 2023 22:38:54 +0200 <![CDATA[SECURE 2.0 Act Tax Credits Make Offering a Retirement Plan Benefit for Your Employees Easier and More Affordable]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAn_rokaTBLNi1yOSYGFl6uu

Our Pooled Employer Plan (PEP) solution simplifies plan setup and provides fiduciary support, access to low-cost investments, and retirement education for your employees.

If you own or lead a small or medium-sized business and you’ve been thinking about offering a retirement savings plan benefit for your employees, there may be no better time than now to get started. The recent passage of new legislation known as the SECURE 2.0 Act contains several provisions that make it more affordable and tax-efficient for employers to provide this key benefit to help their employees save for the future.

Offering a Retirement Plan Helps Attract and Retain Talent

Offering a competitive benefits package, including a retirement savings plan, is essential to your organization’s ability to attract and retain qualified talent. According to a recent AARP study, nearly half of Americans do not have access to a retirement plan at work. However, workers who have access to a retirement savings plan are more likely to stay at a company long-term, and more likely to recommend the company to friends and family. 

Moreover, offering a 401(k) can help your organization build a positive reputation as an employer of choice. Job seekers expect you to offer a 401(k) in your benefits package—62% seriously consider the availability of a retirement plan when deciding to accept or stay at a job. Given the pervasive talent shortages plaguing the tech industry, being able to offer a retirement plan for employees may be a game-changer when it comes to improving your recruiting and retention efforts. 

SECURE 2.0 Introduces New Tax Breaks for Employers

As if enhancing your ability to attract and retain top talent wasn’t reason enough to consider offering a retirement savings plan, under SECURE 2.0, you can potentially take advantage of tax incentives toward your plan startup costs and employer contributions. SECURE 2.0 builds on the original Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019. The goal of SECURE 2.0 is to make it more attractive for small businesses to offer workplace retirement savings plans and improve workers’ retirement preparedness. 

Here’s a breakdown of the new tax credits: (Please consult your tax advisor directly to confirm whether these tax credits are available to you, if you have any limitations, and for more information on how your company can specifically maximize these benefits.)

Increased Start-up Cost Tax Credit

The original SECURE Act provided tax credits for small employer plans; SECURE 2.0 significantly enhances the available tax credits—including some that could cover some, or potentially all, of the operating and administrative costs for a small plan for up to three years. Specifically, the tax credit is essentially an offset against your company’s tax liability, which may make the credit more valuable than a deduction.

Eligible employers can receive a tax credit for qualified start-up costs* related to setting up a workplace retirement plan. Under SECURE 2.0, the tax credit is available to Pooled Employer Plans (PEPs) and Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs) for the first three years after an employer joins and maintains an eligible plan.

Employer Size Start-up Cost Tax Credit**
1-50 employees  100% of eligible start-up costs
50-100 employees 50% of eligible start-up costs
100+ employees No start-up cost tax credit

Source: National Association of Plan Advisors

“Qualified start-up costs include ordinary and necessary expenses paid by an eligible employer related to the setup or administration costs of an eligible retirement plan, or costs related to employee retirement plan education. 

**The maximum credit is lesser of $5,000 or $250 times the number of eligible non-highly compensated employees (NHCEs).

Employer Contribution Credit

Employers may also receive tax credits for contributing to a retirement plan on their employees’ behalf.

Employer Size Employer Contribution Tax Credit***
1-50 employees  Up to 100% employer contribution for first 2 years;

75% in third year;

50% in fourth year;

25% in fifth year

50-100 employees Same as above, but phased out based on number of employees above 50
100+ employees $0

***Available for the first five tax years the plan is maintained. Maximum tax credit per eligible employee is $1,000. Credit is only available for contributions for employees whose annual compensation is $100,000 or less. 

Additionally, employers with up to 100 employees receive an automatic enrollment credit of $500.

(Employers should consult their tax advisor to confirm if SECURE 2.0 tax credits are available to them.)

The new SECURE 2.0 tax credits may be an incentive for your organization to consider setting up a new retirement plan for your employees. And here’s some more good news: You don’t have to set up a retirement plan benefit on your own. The 401(k) Tech Collective Plan is a Pooled Employer Plan (PEP) solution that’s affordable, easy to implement, offers low-cost investments, and delivers fiduciary support for you and retirement plan education support for your employees. 

Read more about the benefits of the PEP here, or visit our website to learn more.  

Interested in learning more about our competitive retirement plan solutions for small businesses? Let’s have a conversation. Email us at 401k@washingtontechnology.org

The post SECURE 2.0 Act Tax Credits Make Offering a Retirement Plan Benefit for Your Employees Easier and More Affordable appeared first on WTIA.

Fri, 31 Mar 2023 19:50:40 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAn_rokaTBLNi1yOSYGFl6uu
<![CDATA[Apprenticeships Can Help Advance Career Opportunities for Women by]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlNDkjWCuoF9Fw3HFUzDTIP

March is Women’s History Month, a time to honor and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women throughout history and in the modern era. While there is positive progress to celebrate, women still have a long way to go when it comes to leveling the playing field in career opportunities and gender pay equity. 

According to Women in Tech Network, it will take 133 years to close the economic gender gap. The World Bank reports that women make up less than 40% of the global workforce. This severe lack of female diversity is even more pronounced in the tech industry, where women make up just 28% of the workforce. 

Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce that includes women is crucial to help bridge the economic gender gap and advance gender equity. However, research shows employers struggle to recruit and retain talent from underrepresented groups such as women, people of color, Veterans, and individuals with disabilities. Registered Apprenticeships are one solution employers should consider, as these programs support the recruitment and retention of women and help create more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible workplaces.  


Addressing the Challenge of Recruiting Female Talent

The tech industry continues to face persistent talent shortages amid rising demand for highly skilled roles. These challenges aren’t going away, and companies that don’t embrace new, creative talent acquisition strategies will be at a competitive disadvantage. For these reasons, leaders need to shift their hiring practices to address talent gaps while creating new pathways to careers in tech. 

Enter apprenticeships, which offer an alternative pathway for employers to diversify their workforce while addressing pervasive talent shortages. Focusing specifically on women, apprenticeships provide an opportunity for employers to recruit them into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs. Women tend to self-select out of these careers at an early age—31% opt out in middle school. That figure jumps to 40% in high school and reaches 58% in college.

Nonetheless, female representation in apprenticeships is expanding exponentially across many industries in the United States. The number of female apprentices has more than doubled from fiscal year 2014 to 2022, according to the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL also reports that 13% of active apprentices, and 17% of new apprentices, are female. 

And according to data from Apprenti, which focuses on helping employers bridge the tech talent and diversity gaps by delivering industry-recognized, federally approved registered apprenticeship programs, 41% of its non-Veteran apprentices are women. To put that into context, 50% of Apprenti apprentices are Veterans, and 92% of its apprentices come from underrepresented groups. 

These data points indicate that apprenticeship resonates with women as a desirable pathway to well-paying, family-sustaining career opportunities. 


Why Women in the Workforce Matters

Studies show that diverse companies are more innovative, creative, productive, and profitable. Moreover, gender-diverse teams do 73% better at making business decisions, and companies with high degrees of gender diversity are 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability, according to B2B and SaaS platform reviewer, FinancesOnline

Apprenticeships can provide a viable pathway to help upskill or reskill women who are returning to the workforce after a temporary leave, to serve as caregivers for children or aging parents, for example. These programs can also provide middle-skills career opportunities for those seeking higher-wage occupations or a totally new career path. Considering apprenticeship programs make sense in this context because the Covid-19 pandemic created outsized challenges for women in the workforce, leading to reduced satisfaction with their work/life balance, increased professional and personal responsibilities, and lower productivity and job satisfaction. It’s no wonder that women were 10% more likely than men to change careers due the pandemic. Apprenticeships may provide women the option to make a career shift rather than remaining in jobs they dislike or worse, exiting the workforce altogether.

For women seeking new opportunities, apprenticeships are far more accessible than traditional four-year degree programs. They are more cost-effective (Apprenti, for example, doesn’t charge apprentices a fee to be part of its program), shorter in duration (most tech apprenticeship programs last about a year), and give women a chance to earn while they learn, combining classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Other benefits include opportunities for networking and the ability to receive real-world guidance and support from mentors and peers. 

Female apprentices also have the potential to boost their earnings power. While women tended to earn less than men by $8,000 coming into the Apprenti program, they earned $3,500 more than men on exit, according to the Registered Apprenticeship program provider.


Bridge the Gender Gap with Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships provide a solid pathway for employers to consider when it comes to bridging the digital skills talent gap, recruiting diverse candidates, and providing nontraditional pathways to employment. Registered Apprenticeship programs such as Apprenti deliver a ready-made pipeline of talent from underrepresented groups, including women, which can help the tech industry close the gender equity and economy divide and reap the benefits of having a greater female presence in their workforce.

Explore how Apprenti can help you create a more diverse workforce by supporting your efforts to recruit and retain female talent. 

The post Apprenticeships Can Help Advance Career Opportunities for Women by appeared first on WTIA.

Thu, 16 Mar 2023 22:00:56 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlNDkjWCuoF9Fw3HFUzDTIP
<![CDATA[Venture Trends: Can Startups Still Secure Early-Stage Funding Despite Recession, Economic Uncertainty, and Dwindling Dry Powder?]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlmRF2kigqKQd6jHbRcHw3s

Is it more difficult to raise early-stage venture capital today than it was a few years ago? That depends on who you ask, what stage your company is in, your narrative, your timing, and how you frame the conversation. Obviously, myriad factors go into fundraising, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Pitchbook predicts that venture investments into startups will decline in 2023, “driven by a retreat in nontraditional capital that is now retreating from opportunistic venture strategies deployed over the past few years.” Essentially, more companies will be chasing less available capital in the coming year. That said, some VC funds still have dry powder to invest and good companies will still be able to secure capital. 

Looking for guidance on how to successfully pitch investors? Four Pacific Northwest founders who recently raised money for their companies, or who are in the midst of doing so, shared their experiences, what the environment is like now, and valuable lessons and advice for those seeking capital in the near future. Our esteemed panel included:

  • Mona Akmal, CEO and co-founder at Falkon AI, a go-to-market intelligence platform 
  • Pradnya Desh, founder and CEO of Advocat AI, an AI-driven platform for generating legal contracts 
  • Joseph Gradante, CEO of Allio Finance, a savings and investing app 
  • Brandon Schultz, CEO of Violet.io, a universal e-commerce API platform

Q: What’s your recent fundraising experience been like? Do you think it’s harder or easier to raise money than it has been in the last couple of years?

Pradnya Desh: It’s brutal out there right now. Even though funds have dry powder to deploy, they’re hesitating. Even regarding the speed at which meetings get scheduled—it used to be that you could get a meeting within a couple of days. Now, it takes two weeks. The whole process is slowed down. 

Brandon Schulz: Series A is fundamentally different now. I think if you’re trying to raise a Series A right now, you’re going to probably have the most difficulty out of anyone, just given what the new requirements are. If anything, Violet was lucky to some degree around our timing. We raised a $10 million Series A 90 days after our seed round; we ended up raising $13 million last year. In most markets, that’s not going to happen.

Part of why that happened was, what was a prior seed investment became Series A investments. So all the late-stage Series A, Series B investors were trying to get in earlier, so you saw a lot of those hedge funds—Tiger Global and SoftBank, for instance—working their way in. All of those companies were suddenly putting billions of dollars that used to be deployed in Series C rounds and later and moving their way up, sometimes even into seed rounds. That pressure is what created some of the investment culture that emerged. As a result, all these early-stage firms were forced to increase valuations, capital investment, etc. That was good for a lot of us at that time.

That pressure has gone away. There are still a lot of great pre-seed and seed investors out there. They have capital to invest, but the overall valuations associated with that, and to some degree, the early revenue rigor, have changed.

The conversation I like to have with investors is around future valuations. If you’re talking with an investor, I think it’s a misnomer to say the market has fundamentally changed. If you’re raising a pre-seed round right now, that investor’s not expecting to get their money back for probably five years, if not 10 years. We don’t know what the market’s going to look like five or 10 years from now. Similarly, five years ago, people that were raising money had no idea that there’d be a downturn like there is today. The right pre-seed investors and seed investors understand that. They’re looking for the right companies and they will make the investments. Outside of that, I’d say fundraising is more difficult and it’s definitely getting tighter.

Mona Akmal: When we started raising in May of 2022, right about when the meltdown was at its peak, many of founder friends said to me, “You’re going to have to talk to a hundred investors to get one term sheet.” We spoke with six investors and closed a round. 

How has the fundraising environment changed—compared to what? If you compare it with what was happening in 2020, which I think of as a pure scam, just fraud, I don’t consider that fundraising. If you compare the current fundraising market with 2016, for instance, it’s back to normal—unit economics matter. If you’re a Series A company, you have to have revenue. You can’t be pre-revenue unless you are in a very specific specialized space like cybersecurity or fast databases, for example.

In our experience, if you are business focused on building something durable that has sound unit economics, you’re not going to have a problem raising money, especially if you’re operating in a large market. But gone are the days of showing up in a room and charming everyone, and talking about how the [total addressable market] TAM is infinite and appealing to people’s greed, and getting a $100 million dollar valuation for $0 in revenue.

Joseph Gradante: Things have slowed down, particularly on the VC side. But as Mona just said, compared to what? Things are more back in balance now with where they were in 2015 and 2016. Particularly in FinTech, valuations have been insane and lofty. They were too big to begin with. I think it’s good that there’s been a healthy correction in the market.

Many opportunities exist in venture debt and family offices. They’re sitting on a lot of dry powder, but it takes longer to move the needle. Sometimes it’s harder to get meetings. You have to be resourceful.

Outside of that, I think great investors still recognize great companies. The macro climate has obviously changed, but there’s a lot of factors—artificially low interest rates for too long and the uncertainty. But there’s always uncertainty. You don’t know what the future holds. Good companies are going to be good companies, and business cycles tend to follow a certain pattern. I have no doubt that it will follow the same pattern this time. And in two years, things will be back to the way they were in 2019/2020 because that’s just the way things go. 

Q: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned while fundraising?

Joseph: You have to be patient. Things do not move quickly; the due diligence process is long. You’ve got to be extroverted—you’ve got to get over the fear factor and just put yourself out there. 

Pradnya: Run an organized fundraising process. In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to do that, especially looking down the barrel of runway. From the beginning, it’s really important to get it right with your target list and warm intro to everybody on the list. Have a very organized and accurate data room that’s ready whenever somebody needs it. And be quick in your follow-ups.

Brandon: My first lesson is don’t raise capital if you can avoid it. It’s painful, it’s terrible. I only say that because I’ve gone through the process. I’m thankful that we have. But I also say that because the way the market is structured, people are often going after specific outcomes and milestones, and sometimes you can lose sight of the things you actually need to accomplish from a business perspective. We definitely fell victim to that. It’s one thing I wish I had handled differently in the past. 

Second, raising capital is not about raising capital. In my opinion, it’s all about belief. Raising capital is the outcome of a set of beliefs that someone else happens to share with you. Specific investors have their own thesis on what they’re doing. Especially if you’re doing something interesting and new, it’s not always going to fit into those boxes.

Mona: So many learnings. Tactical ones: Do your research on your investors. And then focus on the investor group that you really should be talking to. If you can, eliminate a bunch of investors. Just like you have an ICP—an ideal customer profile—for your customers, you should have an ideal customer profile for your investors as well. It starts with the firm. and then it should go down to the actual partner you want to talk to.

Second, never share your pitch deck, especially in the early stages. Pre-seed, seed, Series A is still 50%- 80% about the storytelling of the founding team. You cannot capture yourself in a deck. I’ve never shared a deck and I never will, because you’re selling yourself, and your vision. Less is more. Slide decks, data rooms, everything is a crafted story. The more information you share, the more surface area of attack you are opening yourself up to. So share as little as possible. 

Every investor will have concerns about why they should not invest in your company. A concern is just like an objection in a sales process. It doesn’t mean it’s toast; it means you have to be able to handle the objection effectively. Founders tend to go overboard when an investor throws out an objection or a concern. They go off into a long-winded explanation, which doesn’t inspire confidence. Give the shortest, most precise answers to handle or reframe the objection.

Last trick: Sometimes the objection doesn’t need to be handled. You need to say, “That’s actually the wrong way to look at the problem. Let me give you a better way to think about it.” You want to play on the offense, you never want to be on the defense. 

I’ll add one more: Even when you’re fundraising, you’re never fundraising. All our conversations were, “Hey, we’re not actively looking to raise money, we’ve got money in the bank. We’re just exploring what a company like us would need to have in terms of our core metrics and our story.” I practiced my pitches with partners at great firms without fundraising. It just so happened that one of them wanted to put their money behind us. This practice creates a perception that you are not selling your company, [investors] are buying the right to participate in your amazing company and journey.

Q: Are there any other words of wisdom or advice you’d like to share?

Brandon: I have two main rules of thumb relative to raising capital. First, I want to make sure that in my space and regarding my product, I will always be better and smarter than the investor I’m talking to. That is important because when I walk into those conversations, there’s a strange power dynamic. Someone else on the other side of a Zoom call is the one with all of the power and all of the capital, but they aren’t the ones in the trenches every day trying to solve the problem, let alone with years of experience. Although I had the proximity, which is the actual currency, I wasn’t translating that into a level of rigor and clarity that would give me that position of power about how to deploy capital. That was a miss for me.

When I advise others, I say, “If the investor knows more about your space and/or your product and competitors, you’re not going to be able to raise capital from that investor.” I have that as a standard for myself as well.

The second one, especially in the early stages, is leverage great advisors. They are worth their weight in gold. Hold yourself to a high standard on who you select. Once you have those trusted advisors, listen to what they say, and then go build a great product and team. If you do those things, everything else will fall into place. The advisors will get the access you need, they’ll help you with raising capital, they’ll force you into a level of rigor with your own business and hitting metrics and requirements ahead of time. I always recommend that.

Joseph: I think picking the right board member, or that first board you set up is absolutely crucial. You have to have trust there. You want somebody who’s strategic and can help you in what you’re trying to achieve. And know your competition. 

Mona: Think of fundraising and investors just like a sales process or a game. You have to be able to look at the players in the game, understand the rules and their motivations, and emotionally distance yourself from the game that you’re playing. It’s like playing chess. You have to be able to look at the chess board and figure out what your next best play is.

I would also say focusing on your mental and physical health during the fundraising process is critical. So if you’re not seeing a therapist, get one because you’re going to need it. If you’re not working out, get a fitness coach and put in at least 120 minutes of hard workouts every week. You need the cortisol to release from your system. Otherwise, you’re not mentally fit to play this high-stress chess game that is fundraising. Peak performance in the mind and the body will result in a good fundraising process.

Pradnya: If you’re fundraising now, conserve cash. And hang in there. This environment that we’re in is not going to last forever. We’re reading that maybe by summer or fall 2023, we’ll be out of it. So make sure that you are set up to be fine until then.

For additional insights on early-stage fundraising from our panel of CEOs, check out our podcast, The C-Suite Chronicles on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You can also watch the video recording on the WTIA YouTube channel. 


The post Venture Trends: Can Startups Still Secure Early-Stage Funding Despite Recession, Economic Uncertainty, and Dwindling Dry Powder? appeared first on WTIA.

Thu, 02 Mar 2023 15:21:26 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlmRF2kigqKQd6jHbRcHw3s
<![CDATA[The Role of Apprenticeship in Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility  ]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAnMAMIQ2NplF9aXKMm36c-X

As WTIA and Apprenti recognize and celebrate Black History Month this February, it calls to mind how far we have come in advancing equity in the workplace. And in many respects, how far we still have to go.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic’s unequal impacts on workers (especially those from underrepresented populations) and 2020’s racial reckoning, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has taken center stage as a practice to create a more inclusive, equitable workforce. Yet many barriers to employment remain for underrepresented groups, including BIPOC, women, Veterans, and individuals with disabilities. In addition, a pervasive talent shortage is plaguing the nation, and its impact is being felt across multiple industries, including tech.  

Registered Apprenticeship is a workforce solution recognized by the Department of Labor that enables employers to proactively promote DEI in the workplace while also addressing skills shortages by providing related classroom instruction and on-the-job training for in-demand roles. At WTIA, DEI is at the core of our mission. We created Apprenti, the first viable tech apprenticeship program in the U.S., to help employers build inclusive workplaces while providing women, BIPOC individuals, Veterans, and people with disabilities an on-ramp to launch careers in tech. In the U.S. labor market, 92% of jobs require digital skills. Registered Apprenticeship can help America’s employers find the talent they need while diversifying their workforce and hiring practices, providing unprecedented opportunities for underrepresented individuals, including Black talent.

Why Registered Apprenticeship?

Although apprenticeship is common in Europe and Canada, it has been slow to catch on in the U.S. As apprenticeships transition from the trades to tech and America’s employers seek alternative pathways to source diverse candidates, however, Registered Apprenticeship is garnering attention and gaining traction.

Historically, access to jobs that pair family-sustaining wages, such as those in technology, has been dependent on the ability to earn a four-year college degree, and for workers from other countries, access to employment visas. However, the number of visas issued annually is limited, and degree requirements can disproportionately screen out individuals who don’t go to college or graduate with a degree. In fact, 79% of jobs paying more than $50,000 require a four-year college degree, which automatically disqualifies 76% of Black individuals in the U.S., according to Apprenti partner OneTen, a coalition of executives and companies committed to advancing one million Black individuals without four-year college degrees into family-sustaining careers over the next 10 years. 

Registered apprenticeships offer opportunities for individuals without college degrees to learn new skills while getting paid, as well as cultivate a professional network and gain access to living-wage jobs. As such, Registered Apprenticeship may be an ideal pathway to economic prosperity for Black talent, as well as individuals from other minority groups.

Currently, Black talent is vastly underrepresented in the apprenticeship workforce. There are more than 210,000 apprentices currently employed in the U.S.; of those, just 18% are Black.
However, recent studies indicate that apprenticeships combined with a skills-based approach to hiring may play an integral role in advancing Black talent into more senior roles. Given that there was only a 1% increase in Black representation in large tech companies between 2014 and 2021, according to Brookings Institute, and only 7% representation across the tech industry, according to Apprenti data, Registered Apprenticeship has the potential to move the needle on workforce diversity. 

For its part, Apprenti has a proven track record of increasing diversity and equity at a significant cost savings to employers. Black talent represents 22% of apprentices placed with Apprenti; compared to 18% overall. Moreover, 91% of Apprenti apprentices are from underrepresented groups. Eighty-eight percent of Apprenti apprentices are retained, with employers experiencing an average cost savings of 30% over traditionally sourced talent. 

Apprenticeship as a DEI workforce development strategy 

Why should employers focus on apprenticeship as a solution to help them create more diverse, equitable, inclusive workplaces now? Simply put, because DEI is a competitive imperative. A sea change is coming in America’s demographics; its workforce is sure to follow the same trajectory. In the next 10 years, a majority of workers will be non-white. Looking at the tech industry, which is relentlessly competitive and employs mostly white men, if companies do not become experts at building inclusive workplaces, they will fall behind competitors that are able to attract, develop, and retain diverse talent.

This shift requires employers to reimagine their hiring practices. An apprenticeship program can complement a DEI-focused strategy to diversify the workforce. Identifying, hiring, and training talented diverse apprentices for lucrative careers can help improve the diversity pipeline in any organization. Apprenticeships provide access to career opportunities that not only provide a path to higher-paying jobs, but also better opportunities within an organization. 

There are three critical elements of a DEI-focused workforce development strategy:

  • Leadership Commitment and Development. Leaders must be bought in and fully committed to a DEI-focused workforce development strategy and invest in long-term success. A comprehensive DEI strategy must include not only activities focused on bringing diversity into the organization. It must also highlight the importance of nurturing an inclusive company culture where Black, Indigenous, and other people of color can thrive. 

Focusing on how the climate of inclusion in the organization requires acknowledging and addressing systemic inequities that affect people from diverse identities – including those from LGBTQIA+ communities, people who are foreign-born, and those who identify with a disability. 

Leaders who make way for diversity take an active stance about ensuring DEI values are deeply embedded within the company culture. A strategy-based commitment means competency attainment and mastery through leadership coaching and development programs such as the partnership between WTIA and The Diversity Way-Maker ™ Consultancy.       

  • Establish clear and achievable goals. The WTIA Anti-Racism in Tech roadmap was established in response to the global racial reckoning that came about following the tragic murder of George Floyd. The roadmap challenged signatory companies to examine their recruitment, hiring and retention practices and set clear goals toward diversifying the tech workforce. 

The most effective diversity hiring goals consist of SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Understanding demographics from the candidate recruitment pool is a first step. However, those setting goals must also be wary of relying solely on publicly available data. Because of historic inequities, people of color tend to be underrepresented in Census counts and in workforce data. 

A workforce development goal developed with a DEI lens may set an aspirational numerical goal for a particular underrepresented community (and no, this does not mean quotas), for example Blacks or Latinx. An example of a SMART hiring goal may be: “By the end of 2025, increase the number Black coders employed at prevailing wage by X% of 2023 baseline data.” This statement specifies the current and future desired state of the hiring goal, and sets a timeframe for achievement.  

  • Focus on Data. Structured DEI programs focused on talent development such as apprenticeships, mentorships, and career succession can benefit from robust data collection and analyses. Talent management—and its operationalization through diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)—must be data-focused. It is important to have a strategic approach to using data to tell a compelling story about how DEI is integrated into talent management activities, including sourcing, hiring, onboarding and training apprentices. Apprenticeship-focused data examples include quantitative and qualitative data about engagement and integration into the company culture; evidence of advancement; apprenticeship participation in mandatory DEI training, hiring and recruitment referrals, among other measures. 

One caveat: Be wary about focusing only on positive data stories about your efforts. It is equally important to pay close attention to diversity attrition rates among apprentices. If certain departments within the company are having trouble retaining apprentices in general, look into root causes embedded in the company culture. Exit interview data may help identify challenges and tell a fuller story about gaps and opportunities for improvement. 

Implementing an apprenticeship program and DEI strategy in your organization doesn’t have to be daunting or complex, if you have the right partners to help you get started.

Apprenti provides a full-service solution for adopting and creating apprenticeships within your company using our holistic approach, or we can act as a consultant to help you build your own in-house program. Learn more about us.

The DEI Center of Excellence at WTIA and The Diversity WayMaker are consistently innovating to provide timely, relevant solutions to help company leaders master core DEI competencies and confidently integrate DEI strategies into the culture of their organizations. Discover how we can help you transform your organization into a workplace where everyone thrives.

The post The Role of Apprenticeship in Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility   appeared first on WTIA.

Fri, 24 Feb 2023 03:31:38 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAnMAMIQ2NplF9aXKMm36c-X
<![CDATA[WTIA Launches First Australia Startup Accelerator in Partnership with Investment New South Wales]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlUpcXWUfbf5TRQaTQYXBS9

As part of its ongoing efforts to support a thriving startup ecosystem in Washington state and help next-generation companies expand from overseas to the United States, WTIA launched its first-ever Australian startup accelerator in late January. 

The accelerator, known as the Investment New South Wales USA Software-as-a-Service Going Global program, is a partnership between WTIA and Investment New South Wales. Its purpose is to help 14 software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies expand their operations beyond Australia to the U.S. market. The 8-week virtual accelerator program runs through March 2023 and will culminate in an in-person demo day with select companies.

Participating startups include:

The Australian accelerator program aligns with the WTIA mission to establish Washington state as a standout ecosystem for startups. Additionally, it helps support promising startups in New South Wales as they consider expanding to U.S. markets. Overseas founders often think of Silicon Valley or New York, for example, when considering where to set up shop in the U.S. The Australia Accelerator provides them an opportunity to tap into local resources, investors, and communities, which may entice them to choose Washington state as a desirable place to establish their U.S. operations. As a result, there may be an influx of talented founders into Washington, as well as an increase in potential job opportunities.

The virtual startup market accelerator will host workshops on sales, fundraising, and other stage-appropriate topics, each customized to the individual participating organizations. The program also provides mentorship and coaching designed to help with localization efforts and U.S. go-to-market strategies. Founders will receive introductions to local community leaders and investors as well as companies for market validation. All participants benefit from a complimentary WTIA membership, which includes access to benefits like AWS Credits, Carta Cap Table Management software, HubSpot marketing automation, Brex corporate credit cards, and more. 

For additional details about the Australia accelerator and other WTIA startup programs, contact Koki Sato.  

The post WTIA Launches First Australia Startup Accelerator in Partnership with Investment New South Wales appeared first on WTIA.

Tue, 07 Feb 2023 11:52:06 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlUpcXWUfbf5TRQaTQYXBS9
<![CDATA[Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A 2022 Retrospective and a Look Ahead at Trends for 2023]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAniXWDFNbbsGYeLGixeGJZp

What worked in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in 2022? Where was there room for improvement? What trends will prevail in DEI in 2023?

We asked Yolanda Chase, Chief Diversity Officer at WTIA, and Michael Schutzler, CEO, WTIA, to share their unique perspectives on the current state of DEI and how tech leaders can continue to create positive momentum in this space in the coming year. 

Q: What worked well in DEI in 2022?

Yolanda Chase: What worked well was our ability to reach out to signatories who originally committed time and effort into building more equitable and inclusive workplaces via the Anti-Racism in Tech Pact, and really being able to understand their progress, how far they’ve come, and areas of challenge. It played a significant role in helping us determine how we deliver solutions relative to attracting, retaining, and developing talent through an equity lens. 

Attracting, developing, and growing BIPOC talent, and then designing our meetups and workshop sessions to meet that need. And also providing space and opportunity for networking for organizations—part of the Pact or not—to interact and talk about their challenges and where they need more help and share best practices, etc. So I think that worked beautifully in 2022, and more of that to come in 2023.

Michael Schutzler: Nobody knew that WTIA was focused on diversity initially because it was like a magic trick. Nobody was watching the right hand while the left hand was doing something else. We built an apprenticeship program. The whole world was fascinated by the fact that we were in the training business, and our real focus was that 80%+ of those apprentices were going to be underrepresented groups in jobs largely held by White men. Our archetype for that was, “Can we successfully recruit Black women?” That was six, almost seven years ago.

Nobody thought of us doing DEI work. Then in the summer of 2020, we started the Anti-Racism Pact that Yolanda referred to. There were roughly 70 organizations that signed up to join, deliberately and specifically focused on diversity. The very first response from member companies and from the public and the local media was, “Why is a trade association working on DEI? Who do you think you are?”

A year later, in 2021, we were still somewhat in a pandemic. People had almost forgotten that George Floyd was murdered. In fact, people had almost forgotten that racism is an issue in the tech industry, and everybody ignored us. We did our work, but for the most part, nobody cared. 

Our board of directors agrees with our focus, understands, has fully internalized, and now articulates on its own behalf, that diversity is our strategic differentiation as a trade association. Find me another chamber, find me another association that says, “our strategic purpose is diversity, that’s item number one.”

Nobody else is doing that and we’re now credible. I’m excited about what that means for 2023 and beyond because we’ve finally been given permission by our member base, our stakeholder groups that we work with, our partners, and the general public who occasionally engage with us. We’ve been given permission by that social fabric to be thought leaders in this space. And that’s pretty cool. 

Q: What are some success stories that have come out of our DEI efforts?

Yolanda: Outreach is one. They received an award we gave through the DEI Summit in 2021. Their focus was on hiring a specific leader to come in and lead their DEI efforts. Their CEO was committed, not just through the signing of the Anti-Racism in Tech Pact, but also living the values by hiring a woman of color, providing full access and a runway so that real sustainable inclusion exists.

Michael: Because we’re a tech trade association, I’ll focus on the tech sector. Last year, something on the order of $2 to $3 billion was spent by large tech companies, mostly public companies, on DEI initiatives. And the outcome of all of that spending and a lot of public banging of drums was actually a retrenchment. There are fewer underrepresented groups working in tech than there were before. 

That isn’t because the industry hasn’t become good at recruiting women, people of color, people with disabilities, or veterans. It’s challenging to retain those people because almost everything has been performative. There has not been a systemic change.

When there is a budget allocated to DEI, the money is not being spent on leadership development or organizational design changes. It’s being spent on awareness training or vendors owned by underrepresented groups. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a great component of a diversity strategy. But everyone seems to have missed the fact that diversity is an outcome.

Diversity is not the beginning. The beginning is leadership that creates an inclusive environment. I’m happy to say that some of the smaller companies that we’ve worked with get it. Because they’re at a scale where they can easily see and feel the pain from, “We recruited some people of color—and they’re gone.” 

We’ve also seen progress with other small companies; Outreach is one. There’s also a local gaming company here called FlowPlay that figured DEI out years ago and has gotten brilliant at recruiting and retaining all manner of diversity because they understand that item number one is inclusive leadership. 

Locally, we’re starting to see some companies we can partner with. We’re a Center of Excellence. We help companies figure out how to cultivate change, and we point them to resources to help them. To be effective, we have to first find an organization with leadership that understands item number one is the system they run, not how many people of color are in the mix. It’s a big shift.

Q: Where do you think there’s room for improvement?

Yolanda: Every organization can do better. What I’ve seen over the last 33 years practicing DEI is that there is progress being made, albeit slow and steady. That said, we’re still seeing significant disparities in pay, employee benefits, and economic vitality for Black and Brown people.

We want to see a lot more traction and action being taken by leaders to say, “I have a deficit in my understanding of what DEI even means.” The improvements have to be centered around a leader who says, “I believe in inclusive and equitable workplaces with an outcome of diversity, but I am still struggling with concepts. I am still struggling with how I show up as, for example, a White male or even a White female. How do I support this when I don’t have the mastery and I haven’t embodied the competencies required for me to see deficits in equity every time they pop up inside my organization or when we’re having strategic conversations about the direction of the business or product development?” 

Q: What are your top predictions for upcoming trends in DEI in 2023? 

Yolanda: In the context of the Great Resignation and the exiting of BIPOC talent during the pandemic out of organizations because of microaggressions and poor culture, more organizations will be mindful of external contributing factors—external criticalities can create cultural issues inside our workplaces.  Culture, how we do work, how we welcome people into the workspace, and what we provide for them are primarily impacted.

We’re also seeing equity and inclusion leadership competency development as a growing trend we need to pay attention to. I anticipate we’re going to see more on the leadership development side, and I’m hoping that leaders start to understand competency building is key and begin to act on it.

I also anticipate there’s going to be a greater focus on culture and how we attract and retain talent, as well as a deeper understanding of what talent is looking for inside an organization. For example, Gen Z talent wants to not just see more diversity, they want to be able to point to it and understand at the micro level what an organization is doing to live and breathe their values in DEI. A lot of that is going to be driven by the new generations of talent coming into the workplace.

Michael: That Gen Z is looking for diversity is a phenomenon in a wider context. I want to make sure it isn’t lost. It’s quite interesting. 

It started with us being in a pandemic and a cry in society and especially in the tech industry that said, “Diversity’s a necessity; there’s still racism.” 

Now there are layoffs happening and there’s an existential threat all around us, at least in the tech industry. While the rest of the economy has been growing jobs like weeds, this industry is actually contracting. In that environment, our industry has an interesting DNA that’s the result of growing up with an existential threat due to competition and a limited amount of capital. Every single tech company is like this. Our DNA is to ship the product, and make payroll—nothing else matters. In the current environment, many companies that were making progress toward addressing internal DEI challenges are saying they can’t afford to focus on it. 

Generally, marketing and human resources are the first to get cut in a budget process that’s under duress. It’s not sales because revenue still has to come in. It’s usually not service because companies want to keep the customers they have. Everything else gets cut. 

There are tech companies that recognize the DEI work they’re doing isn’t about being magnanimous. It isn’t because of racial and social justice. There may be personal energy and passion among leadership when it comes to those topics, but that’s not why a company makes DEI a priority.

Company leaders want to do work in diversity and prioritize DEI because they recognize there’s an extremely limited pool of talent and there are fewer White men to hire. The people coming into the talent pipeline expect companies to create inclusive environments. They’re saying “diversity,” but what they’re looking for is, “Does leadership actually make me feel welcome? Do I feel like I belong in this organization? Do I have autonomy? Am I valued for my competence? Am I actually a part of this organization?”

If you’re an organization that’s only worried about shipping the product and making payroll, you don’t care about that sentiment. I’ve seen it over and over again in my career; culture is an excuse for why a company’s workforce is predominantly White men because others don’t “fit the culture.” Companies with a culture of inclusivity— that promote and celebrate diversity because it brings new points of view to problem-solving—are going to win. It’s starting to shift already and within the next 10 years, embracing DEI is going to be a core competency that separates the winners from the losers in talent acquisition, and ultimately, talent retention.

I’m confident that over the next year or two that’ll become more and more clear. If you have enlightened self-interest as a company leader, you’ll recognize the need to adjust your leadership competency requirements and training to create an inclusive workforce. Otherwise, you’re going to have a hard time recruiting or retaining talent.

Q: How do leaders make important DEI conversations the focus of the workplace and the employee experience? 

Yolanda: You need a culture that supports having conversations around DEI, so you have to create it. It’s incumbent upon the leaders at the highest level of the organization to say, “We’re going to create and nurture that organizational dynamic.” That’s the first thing. It’s not difficult to create that environment, or at the very least, to state an intention to create that kind of environment. 

The next piece of that is the work that you need to do to make sure that you can have those conversations and that it’s top of mind in the organization, and setting standards on how you have those conversations and when you have them. We (the COE) talk a lot about integrating DEI into the business model, and that’s part of it. 

You hear so many leaders, specifically White men that say, “Oh, I’m just a White privileged guy and I don’t get this, so let me just toss this over to the BIPOC person over here, they can do it.” That leader is pushing the onus off onto someone else and not understanding that if they are not thinking through the lens of DEI, if it’s not top of mind, if they haven’t embodied or mastered it to a certain degree, then that is going to unconsciously come to bear in the strategic decisions they make. That’s a reality. They’re going to be thinking through the standard leadership lens of how they operate a business. Now, they could have a Diversity Way-Maker™ sitting next to them who says, “Hey, this is what I want you to think about when you’re going through the strategic planning, when you’re making decisions on X, Y, and Z.” A CEO ally who is committed will honor that individual’s input, skills, and abilities, trusts them, and allows them to challenge the status quo through effective DEI advisement.

It begins with the leader. You hear a lot about, “Oh, we’re going to do grassroots on X, Y, and Z in our organization, but it is going to be centered around the employee experience, employee engagement. It’s going to be bottom up.” And yes, bottom up is important to complete the DEI ecosystem. However, changing culture and behaviors, and integrating ideas and conversations into every business decision is a top-down priority.

Additionally, organizations want to implement race equity,  disparity, and race history conversations in environments where people may not be ready to receive it properly. It’s like if somebody says, “Hey, let’s go skiing,” and you’ve never been before. So you go up to Vail and you’re dressed in your regular clothing, and you’re on the mountain and then you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’m freezing, I’m uncomfortable, I’m hungry, I don’t know how to ski. Now I’m going to start lashing out because I’m hangry and cold.” That’s how our bodies naturally respond to things that are unfamiliar or clash with our values.

So individuals need to be prepared to have those conversations to avoid race conversation shock. They may end up having the conversation, but now they don’t know how to compartmentalize it. They don’t know how to apply it to their current state because they haven’t done anything introspective to deal with some of the things that may be triggering them, like certain terms that are used, like White supremacy, racism, and bigotry, for example. So we have to be cautious about how we’re introducing conversations without preparing employees first for what they’re going to experience as a human in those conversations. It’s important to consider how they’ll receive that information. 

Michael: Nothing matters if the CEO isn’t on board. I’ve grown up in the tech industry over the past 40 years, and I’ve seen the same things over and over again. If the CEO says “The customer is king,” then the customer is king. If the CEO says, “Cash is king,” cash is king. 

Creating an inclusive workforce and a leadership system that centers around diversity is not a “nice to have.” It is essential. Equity and inclusion must be integrated into your business just like cash or treating your customers well. If you don’t have a diverse workforce and an inclusive leadership style and culture, your company isn’t going to succeed. If the CEO doesn’t believe that, then they’re going to say, “Cash is king,” and worry about diversity tomorrow. Then it doesn’t matter whether or not you have the best leaders on the planet. They’re not going to focus on DEI unless the CEO pushes it. 

The most important element in DEI is not the HR department. They’re a critical partner to execute on DEI. But at the end of the day, they’re not going to get permission from the organization to focus on the hard work necessary to create an inclusive workforce and work environment unless the CEO says it must be so. DEI integration starts from the top down, and CEOs must not only embrace it but evangelize it for the organization to cultivate meaningful and lasting change.

WTIA continues to innovate when it comes to partnering with business leaders to help them weave DEI into the fabric of their organization. Talk to us about how we can help you master DEI competencies and transform your organization’s recruiting and retention efforts by cultivating a more inclusive and equitable culture for all. Visit http://www.washingtontechnology.org/dei/solutions/ or contact the WTIA DEI Center of Excellence directly at dei@washingtontechnology.org.

The post Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A 2022 Retrospective and a Look Ahead at Trends for 2023 appeared first on WTIA.

Wed, 01 Feb 2023 21:43:39 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAniXWDFNbbsGYeLGixeGJZp
<![CDATA[Why CISOs Resort to Toxic ‘Security Theater’]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkybsB33Sx6sIvmyuk5fxzE

Gain visibility for internal security measures without headaches and drama.

Laws and industry regulations require that organizations keep customer, employee, and partner information adequately secured from prying eyes. Protecting sensitive data is central to a Chief Information Security Officer’s role.  

No matter the size of your organization, it’s difficult to get security right. Often, it’s even more challenging to convince your stakeholders that important assets are secured—even when it’s been done properly. However, CISOs, security executives, and other security leaders are obligated to ensure security and calm fears about cybersecurity measures, especially given the frequent news of numerous companies being breached despite their many certifications and public assurances.

How can CISOs instill confidence in their stakeholders that their information is actually secure?

At the most fundamental level, all stakeholders must be assured that security is a top priority and is being managed with appropriate care and diligence. Security leaders often enforce these ideas by making claims about adhering to compliance standards, implementing effective solutions and policies, engaging key partners, and leveraging relevant security services. These assurances are included on the company’s website, in contracts, customer engagements, shareholder reports, product documentation, and conference presentations, among numerous other places, including media relations. These public-facing statements are crucial, especially when security leaders are responding to a breach. 

However, these practices are often insufficient to provide adequate peace of mind for those whose livelihood and personal information are at stake. Not only do these claims have to be specific, but they must also often be accompanied by some form of concrete evidence. Evidence may be in the form of audit reports, internal assessment reports, or even third-party assessments. The primary issue with these reports is they are often generated by people who are not deeply engaged in, or even knowledgeable about, the intricacies of an organization’s security technologies and operations.  

In other words, information must be both accessible and straightforward with a clear view of the reality of a situation. It must be consistently updated, easily consumable, and convincing to people outside the security organization. It must be able to be read and understood by people who are not experts on the subject. These reports must be authoritative to help inspire confidence from internal and external stakeholders, clients, and the general public. 

How can a CISO prove that the myriad protocols and policies needed to build and operate an effective security apparatus are being implemented? Solutions include, but are not limited to proving that all systems are properly patched, all code is written in a manner conformant with secure development practices, and that all vulnerabilities and defects are being addressed in a timely manner.

This leads us to “Security Theater,” a term coined by renowned security technologist Bruce Schneier, who describes it as referring “to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security”.

Another way to think about Security Theater is that it is the adoption of some security measures for their visibility rather than their efficacy. Even if the measures look good, the level of risk mitigation is negligible or even nonexistent. Examples of Security Theater might take the form of implementing password policies that encourage employees or users to simply add an exclamation point to the end of their usual password, third-party vendor questionnaires that are self-reported, or latching onto social signals and implementing a policy because “it’s what everyone else is doing.” A CISO at a small or medium-sized organization might think, “If this well-known organization I respect believes that requiring a number and special symbol in a password that’s not longer than 12 characters is sufficient, then why shouldn’t my organization follow the same ‘best practice?’” 

The allure of Security Theater is that it yields easy kudos from customers, plaudits from the CEO and board, recognition at conferences, and even career advancement for security leaders. In sum, Security Theater is a cheap shortcut to real security. Security theater is the candy jar of the industry and when you overindulge, you will certainly suffer the ill effects of doing so.

Every security leader knows that it is not a question of if your systems will be breached but when and, most importantly, with what consequences. Will the breach result in catastrophic loss of data and be difficult to contain or will it be contained, allowing for a loss of less critical data. The latter will allow your organization to recover more swiftly and gracefully. The former could cause the organization to lose customers’ trust and damage the company’s reputation. 

The path to real and effective security and high customer trust is not easy, but it is obvious. Each leader must develop the skills to execute security measures correctly and become an educator and evangelist for excellent security. Thought leadership is a crucial tool to communicate how to effectively secure information. Leaders can and should leverage conferences, blogs, tweets, and other public-facing channels to educate the market so customers understand sound security practices. 

Throughout 2023, the WTIA CISO and InfoSec Executive Peer Group will be bringing together top CISOs from around the country to have honest and transparent conversations surrounding  and ways that we can avoid the pitfalls of implementing measures that feel safe, but actually aren’t. If you’re an information security executive who is interested in joining these conversations and growing your peer network in an environment that’s curated for you to safely and confidentially discuss your challenges, we’d love to have you join us!

The post Why CISOs Resort to Toxic ‘Security Theater’ appeared first on WTIA.

Tue, 31 Jan 2023 05:27:10 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkybsB33Sx6sIvmyuk5fxzE
<![CDATA[Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Releases Quantum Information Sciences (QIS) Report]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkDzczedIBK3u9WSSr4-0sP

On the heels of the announcement that IonQ will open a quantum computing research and manufacturing facility in Bothell, WA as part of its $1 billion investment in the Pacific Northwest in the next 10 years, the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) has released its new report, Quantum Information Sciences (QIS) in Washington state. Prepared by Moonbeam for the association’s Advanced Technology Cluster, the report solidifies Washington’s established expertise in quantum computing and highlights opportunities for specialization, QIS workforce expansion, and collaboration with other material clusters around the country.  

Quantum computing is receiving more attention in Washington and worldwide, and it is being touted as a “game-changer” that has disruptive applications in various industries, from healthcare to finance to transport and logistics. According to IBM, “Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerging technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.” 

Washington state is a leader in quantum computing
Washington state has long been a catalyst for technological innovation, with locally built technologies transforming not only their own industries, but driving significant economic growth both regionally and internationally. Quantum is no exception: Washington is the only state that  already has an established innovation hub, exemplary academic institutions, and is home to the headquarters of major technology companies investing heavily in QIS.

The report highlights new opportunities for the state and the potential for quantum to support industries where Washington is already a leader, like life sciences, agriculture, and cybersecurity. Additionally, Washington state is already producing ample QIS talent thanks to investments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and strong university programs. However, the state must prioritize quantum programming that supports minorities, women, and international students to build a more diverse workforce. The state should also seek to make connections with complementary industry clusters and quantum initiatives globally to catalyze innovation.

Key takeaways from the QIS Report

Washington State

  • Washington QIS investors are located exclusively in the Seattle metro area, and nearly 50% of existing investors are focused on supporting software, materials, and healthcare QIS businesses.
  • Washington state is experiencing ‘brain drain,’ with local universities producing more quantum professionals than can be employed locally.
  • 50% of students in quantum programs are foreign nationals, and many struggle to apply for and receive visas to continue working within the state and U.S. following graduation.


  • The U.S. has actively funded QIS research and development (R&D) for the past 15 years, with significant increases since 2019. Over half of the last 15 years’ worth of funding was allocated between 2019 and 2022.
  • Venture capital is the most common type of primary investment (55% of all deals) for QIS startups, both in terms of total number of companies and total number of investments. The deal count has also steadily increased over time, from 52 in 2017 to 128 in 2022, peaking at 142 in 2021.
  • Quantum sensing (QS) expects to grow its market share in the foreseeable future, leveraging atomic clocks, gravity sensors, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) quantum sensors, and magnetic sensors. QS growth will be driven by the defense and agriculture industries.


  • Globally, QS shows high promise for the military and defense industry, but reducing manufacturing costs is critical for adoption.
  • Most quantum technology patents are filed by companies in China (54%) and Japan (15%).
  • There are currently 162 universities and institutions worldwide with QIS-focused educational programs and research activity.

In January 2022, WTIA was awarded $550,000 from the State of Washington’s Innovation Cluster Accelerator to enable the development of an Advanced Technology Cluster to drive private investment, job creation, and world-leading innovation throughout the state. The Cluster aims to build connectivity and collaboration across blockchain technologies and quantum computing, uniting corporations, academia, startups, government, and investors to power the next generation of growth for both of these sectors. In 2023, the Cluster plans to work more closely with schools on tech transfer and commercialization, develop resources around SBIR and STTR to grow local access to funding and forge new industry partnerships.

Recommendations and Next steps

For its part, the Advanced Technology Cluster will focus on the following findings, recommendations, and next steps highlighted in the QIS report:

Focus: Expand Quantum Leadership in Washington state


  • Based on our research, Washington state has a unique blend of capabilities across the full technology stack to act as a national leader in quantum adoption through coordination with other clusters.


  • Washington should position itself to be the convener and center of gravity for QIS – perhaps growing out of the Northwest Quantum Network Summit – in collaboration with clusters in Chicago, D.C., and Colorado.

Next steps:

The Cluster should focus on:

  • Building cross-sector partnerships within the region
  • Building partnerships outside of the region (including international), including broad ecosystem building across stakeholder groups
  • Mapping the ecosystem: The Cluster will continue to research companies, investors, universities, and others working in the space so we can proactively reach out to potential partners and stakeholders

Focus: Entrepreneurship and Attract Investment


  • Washington state excels at attracting basic research funding and it has a highly engaged technology industry investing in corporate R&D and commercialization. However, it underperforms in attracting government commercialization funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and other sources of non-dilutive investment. 


  • Non-Dilutive Investment Attraction: Programming to help quantum entrepreneurs successfully apply for and win grants to finalize research and commercialize quantum solutions will accelerate this sector
  • Founder Attraction and Development: The Cluster should support efforts to attract global quantum startups to Washington state.

Next steps:

  • WTIA Startup Programs: WTIA already produces resources for startups and will continue to promote these resources to advanced technology startups.
  • SBIR/STTR Support: The Cluster will determine ways to provide more support for non-dilutive funding, such as building relationships with agencies that provide these funds, providing information on funding opportunities to relevant startups, and finding ways to support applications.
  • Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Training: The Cluster will explore partnerships with schools in the region to promote more entrepreneurial training for individuals researching advanced technologies like quantum and blockchain. These will include:
    • Introductions: The Cluster will continue making introductions to relevant investors, service providers, potential partners, and others for startups.
    • Coaching and Mentorship: 100+ volunteer mentors already provide support for startups. Going forward, the Cluster will look to recruit additional mentors and coaches with expertise in blockchain and quantum.
    • Accelerators: The Cluster will look to partner with existing accelerators, and in the future, build our own focused on advanced technologies.

Focus: Grow and Retain Talent


  • ​Washington must develop programs to retain and promote diversity in the quantum workforce. 50% of students in quantum programs are foreign nationals and need visa sponsorship to remain in the U.S. after graduation. 


  • Immigration: Programs to support startups to hire locally educated foreign nationals would help catalyze this Cluster.
  • DE&I mentorship: Programs that support minority, women, and international students to mid-career professionals to get access to mentorship to help them advance to leadership can go a long way to building a diverse workforce. 

Next Steps:

  • Thought Leadership and Policymaker Education: Efforts will continue to educate policymakers on the importance of investing in these sectors to ensure future competitiveness and growth
  • Increase QIS Fluency & Literacy: It’s important to increase QIS literacy, meaning that more people beyond those studying QIS understand the technology. For example, we believe that for QIS to reach its full potential, business majors should be educated on the basics of the technology. The Cluster is seeking opportunities to guest lecture at universities to talk about the basics of advanced technologies. In addition, the Cluster is exploring:
    • Education Roundtables: Bringing together industry and academia to discuss talent gaps, future skill needs, and other topics related to workforce development
    • School Advisory Boards: To influence curriculum, more technologists are needed on advisory boards at different schools. The Cluster is working to help recruit people for those roles.
    • Work to develop partnerships across a variety of academic institutions, such as CTC, apprenticeships, four-year colleges, etc.: It’s important to support workforce development in several ways, from working with community and technical colleges to apprenticeship programs to four-year institutions to coding schools. By supporting education in all these areas, we can help more people build skills and fulfill the need for talent in these fields in the near and long term. 

Download the full report.

The post Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Releases Quantum Information Sciences (QIS) Report appeared first on WTIA.

Tue, 31 Jan 2023 05:03:42 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkDzczedIBK3u9WSSr4-0sP
<![CDATA[Legislative Look-Ahead: WTIA Releases Key Policy Priorities for 2023]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAmagMpF5x5XQixhxzpi7FpJ

As the 2023 Washington State Legislature convenes in Olympia over the next 105 days, the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) welcomes opportunities to partner with policymakers and our members to identify actionable solutions to pressing policy challenges. Key policy priorities for WTIA this legislative session include:

Investment in education and reskilling 

Washington’s technology sector is the state’s fastest-growing private-sector employer. For example, Seattle-area tech job postings grew by more than 30% between 2016 and 2021. Despite recent layoffs at tech companies across the state, there is still an increasing need for skilled workers across various sectors. The regional talent pipelines are not able to keep up with that demand, meaning these jobs are filled with talent recruited from other parts of the country or outside the U.S. Additionally, talent recruited solely from local higher education institutions, or through visa programs, is not adequate to address the dearth of diversity in the tech workforce. The industry is unable to solve this workforce development shortage alone. Additional investment is necessary to increase opportunities for Washingtonians to access the family-wage jobs created in the state’s tech sector. 

WTIA continues to advocate for increased public and private investment in education and reskilling programs as viable pathways to increase access to tech careers and support employers in building more diverse workforces. This includes additional funding for K-12 computer science programs and the implementation of the state’s computer science strategy. WTIA is partnering with Washington STEM to study opportunities to bolster K-12 computer science education in our state. Recommendations include the need for a cross-sector leadership structure to support the implementation of computer science programs in the K-12 system and improved data visualizations and accountability metrics. Additional details on these recommendations can be found here

Additionally, increased investment in community college and university computer science and cybersecurity programs is also essential, as the expansion of the higher education pipeline will deliver broader access to tech careers for students from diverse backgrounds and from across Washington state. 

Furthermore, increased investment in registered technology apprenticeship is a critical pathway to help reskill the workforce, particularly for women, veterans, and members of the Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community.

Bridging the digital divide 

The global pandemic exacerbated the digital divide across Washington state. Specifically, it brought into stark contrast long-existing disparities in education, healthcare, and economic opportunities for BIPOC, lower-income, and rural communities. It also highlighted inequalities in accessing and adopting technologies, devices, and digital literacy education. WTIA is partnering with and facilitating collaboration among industry and policymakers to identify opportunities to increase internet access and adoption for unserved and underserved populations, support the development of public-private partnerships, and advance equal access for all Washingtonians to technology and its benefits.

Affordability and livability 

As part of his proposed 2023-25 operating budget, Governor Jay Inslee introduced a sweeping plan to allocate $4 billion in the next six years to support housing construction and reduce homelessness. Inslee’s two-year blueprint calls for the addition of 2,200 housing units and significant increases in programs that support homeless shelters, emergency housing, permanent supportive housing, and landlord/tenant mitigation.

The proposal spotlights the necessity for policymakers to continue to invest in our cities and communities, making them appealing places to start and grow businesses. This includes critical affordability and livability considerations, as well as steps to ensure communities can support new companies and jobs, all of which are essential to the economic vitality of Washington state. Key areas of focus include transportation, public safety, affordable housing, climate change and sustainability, civil liberties and social justice, quality public schools, and the crisis of homelessness. WTIA will actively partner with other nonprofits, policymakers, and our members to accelerate solutions to address these and other challenges.

Read the full text of our 2023 policy priorities and visit http://www.washingtontechnology.org/public-policy/ to learn more about how WTIA collaborates with policymakers and members to create a policy ecosystem that enables a strong and sustainable technology sector that supports thriving communities.

The post Legislative Look-Ahead: WTIA Releases Key Policy Priorities for 2023 appeared first on WTIA.

Tue, 24 Jan 2023 00:12:40 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAmagMpF5x5XQixhxzpi7FpJ
<![CDATA[Staying Sane in Startup Mode: How to Balance Competing Priorities in Your Early-Stage Business]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlYM7oK5oxXA7b9ICM-PHur

Leading a startup is a tenuous balancing act. On any given day, you’re dealing with multiple projects, deadlines, and tasks that demand your attention. Starting and running a business can be rewarding and exhilarating, but it can also be lonely and grueling, with long hours. Managing the highs and lows and maintaining your sanity is challenging, especially in the early days. 

Recently, we sat down with Derrick Morton, Founder and CEO of FlowPlay, a video game company that operates virtual community games such as Casino World and Vegas World, and Jonni Ressler, Founder and CEO of the consulting firm Eleven 11 Solutions. Here are their first-hand insights and advice on balancing competing priorities in your business, taking care of yourself and maintaining important relationships during exceptionally busy seasons, and keeping your sanity while in startup mode

Be willing to be flexible. To quote Eric Reis, author of the best-selling book, “The Lean Startup”: “Pivot, don’t jump to a new vision.” In business, especially in tech, nothing stays the same, and you have to be willing to adapt and pivot as the market, your customers—and yes, even you—evolve.

As Jonni observed, “If you’re going to work in high tech, you need to be really comfortable that the only thing that is consistent is that it’s always changing. I would say to any founder: ‘You have a great idea, you start a thing, but don’t be afraid to pivot. I can guarantee you the path to success is going to look very different than you originally thought…’ Reserve the right to respond, react, and adjust as you need to.”  

Be honest about your deficits. No one can be good at everything. All leaders have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to be clear about yours so you can identify gaps in your skill set and get the support you need. 

Leveraging others’ expertise is a logical solution. You may decide to bring on a strong partner with complementary skills like Derrick did in Doug Pearson, FlowPlay’s Chief Technology Officer and his business partner of 15 years. Or if you’re a solo owner, like Jonni, you might hire a leadership team that includes expertise you may not have. Jonni hired a Chief Financial Officer, for example, to help her understand the inherent risks in her business, manage financial forecasting, and handle her company’s financials—strengths Jonni did not possess. 

If you aren’t clear about what your deficits are, ask. “Ask your trusted advisors—the people who have worked with you or managed you. They know where your blind spots are,” Jonni said. 

Accept that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Entrepreneurship requires a very specific mindset and personality. Generally speaking, to be successful as an entrepreneur, you have to have an appetite for chaos, risk, innovation, and improvisation, Jonni noted. Startup life can be unwieldy and unstructured, so being comfortable with chaos and focusing on finding the opportunities in the challenges is key when it comes to keeping your sanity while growing and leading a business. 

Make your schedule work for you and your team. Compartmentalizing your schedule, or blocking out specific days for certain tasks, may help tame some of the chaos—especially when you’re first starting out and your team is still small. Block scheduling worked well for Derrick and his staff when FlowPlay was in its early days, he said. 

From the beginning, we were a Monday, Wednesday, Friday [in the office] company, with Tuesdays and Thursdays work from home. It started because my CTO and partner said, ‘I need two days a week where I just write code, otherwise, we’re never going to get it done,’” Derrick recalled. “But it worked for the rest of the company too. Everybody had two days a week where there were no meetings and they could focus on their jobs, and three days a week where they were interacting with the rest of the team. That may not work for everybody; every company’s different. But for us, it was the perfect rhythm.”

Understand that self-care is non-negotiable. Adequate sleep. Proper hydration. Consistent exercise. Good nutrition. Maintaining your physical health is critical to being able to “go the distance” and having the energy to stay present, productive, and focused. 

Don’t expect self-care to happen automatically, Jonni warned. You need to build time into your day to take care of yourself and the things that are important to you. “[Your physical fitness] is one of the easiest things to let go of,” she said. “You think, ‘I’ll take the walk or do the exercise later,’ but later never comes to fruition. You have to schedule it.” Derrick does just that—he blocks 45 minutes on his calendar every morning for the StairMaster and doesn’t take meetings during that time. He also sets aside dedicated family time every day. 

Prioritize your mental health. Along with your physical health, your mental well-being is vital to be an effective leader and business owner. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, neither Derrick nor Jonni had seen a therapist. That changed when suddenly, they found themselves largely isolated and required to make heavy, difficult decisions that impacted their companies and teams. Both prioritized getting support from a mental health professional, because they recognized the importance of keeping their mental well-being intact as they navigated leading a company and making sure their employees were taken care of amidst the uncertainty and unprecedented conditions brought about by the pandemic and its aftermath.

Another aspect of prioritizing mental health means making sure your benefits package provides access to the care that you and your employees may need. While it may not be possible to offer the Cadillac of benefits packages out of the gate, it’s important to consider adding services as you’re able and getting creative about how to handle benefits based on what you can afford. For instance, can you offer employees a stipend to cover some or all of the cost of therapy, or work with a broker or trade association like the WTIA to obtain more affordable benefit options? 

Make sure you can pay your staff. Both Jonni and Derrick agreed that being able to make payroll is a top priority for keeping your sanity. Knowing you have money in the bank and that you’re able to pay your employees is vital to keeping your stress at a manageable level.

Know who your customers are, and who they aren’t. When you’re first starting out in business, it’s tempting to want to say “yes” to anyone who expresses interest in your products or services. But that isn’t realistic, because what you have to offer isn’t for everyone, Jonni said. “You’re going to say yes to the wrong customer when you start out, and then you learn from that. When you get real clear about that ideal customer, ideal client, ideal partner, ideal employee, it makes it so much easier,” she added.

Derrick echoed that sentiment: “Knowing exactly who your customers are, what they want, and what you can provide, you have to be the expert in that. And if you know that, it takes your stress level down, too.”

Remember, you aren’t alone. “This is very difficult to do and there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders, but it really helps if you don’t look at this as just you. It’s a team sport, entrepreneurism,” Derrick said. “If you’re talking about everything that’s worrying you with your entire team, then that’s a form of therapy in itself. I would encourage everybody to practice that level of visibility with everybody they’re working with, both because they deserve to know what’s happening at the innermost level of the company for the most part, and for you as a leader, it really helps you to feel like you’re not in this alone, that this is a team effort.”

Acknowledge your failures and learn from them. Sometimes, it’s not about heralding the wins, but celebrating the failures in your business so you can get closure, move on, and do better next time. Derrick shared a story about a company that throws a party, complete with cake, when they have to cancel a project. The party serves as a way for the team to celebrate the hard work they put in and move on from the failure rather than dwelling on it.

Jonni noted that more founders need to treat failure as a learning opportunity and share those learnings with others. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.We’ve got to really get rid of the myth, especially in technology, that we’ve got it all together, that it’s win, win, win, that it’s no pain, no gain, that whole thing,” she said. “As a founder, what’s huge is finding other people that you can talk to honestly. Like, ‘Wow, I really screwed that up. That was a huge loss. I would’ve done that very differently. I just lost $40,000 making that decision.’ And I think it’s really important because we celebrate the wins. I think we’re really good at that. But the learning comes from the failures, the losses, and having people that you trust.”

Focus on the day-to-day, not the final outcome. Starting a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. Derrick put it this way: “If you’re always just fixated on the outcome, you’re not enjoying this whole ride you’re on. I would encourage people to enjoy the day-to-day because it’s a grind. You might as well have fun with it, and not be so focused on the eventual outcome. The possibilities for the outcome are endless. There are a million different ways things can go. But just make the best of every day that you’ve got with your team, with your product, with your company.”

The post Staying Sane in Startup Mode: How to Balance Competing Priorities in Your Early-Stage Business appeared first on WTIA.

Fri, 13 Jan 2023 00:16:21 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlYM7oK5oxXA7b9ICM-PHur
<![CDATA[Offering a 401(k) Plan Benefit Can Improve Recruiting and Retention While Reducing Turnover Costs]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAnVcxIh7eqc9aJCIqJppjfU

A Pooled Employer Plan (PEP) may be worth considering for small and medium-sized businesses looking to build a competitive 401(k) plan.

Offering a 401(k) benefit can boost small and medium-sized businesses’ (SMBs) recruiting and retention efforts while saving them as much as $100,000 a year in reduced employee turnover costs, according to a study from Gusto, a benefits platform for SMBs. That’s a 2x return on the initial costs of offering a 401(k). 

As talent shortages persist across all industries, including tech, small and medium-sized employers must differentiate themselves. Offering a competitive benefits package is one way to stand out. Prospective employees value having a 401(k) plan that provides them an opportunity to save and invest for the future. They may be more likely to sign on to work for an organization that offers a 401(k) benefit, and they’re more likely to stay, according to Gusto. 

Specifically, the study found that employees are 40% less likely to leave their employer within the first year when offered retirement benefits. In some industries, such as retail and food and beverage, where 401(k) plan benefits are less common, that figure is as high as 54%. Another stat in favor of offering a 401(k): Employees with an active 401(k) plan are less likely to leave their current employer in any given month. 

The Reality of Employee Turnover in Tech

The tech industry is plagued by talent shortages and high churn, making increasing retention paramount. According to Forbes, even when tech companies are able to recruit candidates with specialized skills, their retention rate is less than one year. The tech sector has the highest turnover rate of any business sector, at 13.2%, according to a recent turnover report from LinkedIn. That rate of churn costs tech companies billions in recruiting and turnover costs.

Losing an employee can cost a company an estimated 1.5 to 2x the employee’s salary. That figure fluctuates depending on the employee’s level of seniority. On average, turnover costs $1,500 per employee for hourly employees. For technical positions, the cost soars to 100-150% of salary. And on the high end, C-suite turnover can cost 213% of salary. That doesn’t even account for intangible “sunk costs,” such as lost productivity and knowledge.

What’s driving tech employees to leave their jobs at such high rates? Unfair treatment and toxic work environments, particularly among underrepresented populations, are the primary drivers of turnover, according to a report from Kapor. Employees also leave due to a lack of advancement and professional development opportunities, according to a LinkedIn report cited in Forbes. Additionally, the Great Resignation has put negotiating power in the hands of employees, meaning they won’t waste their time entertaining job opportunities that don’t offer a competitive salary and benefits, according to Forbes.

Inclusion’s Impact on Retention

Given the current labor environment and the outsized demand for talent, anything employers can do to make employees feel valued is a benefit. Offering a 401(k) plan may help attract highly skilled workers while creating more “stickiness” in your organization. It can also help bridge the compensation gap—in a recent Willis Towers Watson survey, 50% of employees said they were willing to sacrifice higher pay in exchange for time off and better health and retirement benefits.

Granted, a 401(k) benefit isn’t a panacea—it won’t solve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) gaps in your organization on its own. However, “401(k) DEI initiatives typically encourage greater levels of engagement, access, and participation for minorities, women, younger and lower-income workers—demographic segments that have been historically under-saved and under-served in our 401k system,” according to 401kSpecialist.

What does that look like in practice? For starters, implementing plan design features like auto-enrollment (i.e., the employee does not have to make a voluntary election to participate) and auto-escalation, where contribution rates increase gradually over time, can help promote retirement savings equity and improve outcomes across the board. Additionally, focusing on DEI in participant education and communication efforts can help underrepresented employees feel more included and engaged with the 401(k) plan. 

Why Offering a 401(k) Makes Sense Now

Why consider establishing a 401(k) plan now? Given the ongoing talent shortage, tight labor market, and how slowly legislation moves, employers may be better off getting their own programs off the ground sooner than later. 

Additionally, federal legislation recently passed that builds on sweeping retirement plan reforms passed in 2019 is designed to help bolster retirement preparedness by making available additional retirement savings opportunities for workers. Additionally, companies may eventually be required to automatically enroll employees in individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or 401(k)-type plans. It’s clear that policymakers are focused on shifting the employer-sponsored retirement plan landscape to make it easier and more accessible for Americans to save for the future.

Employers already have access to various 401(k) solutions, such as single-employer plans, which provide retirement benefits to employees of a single company, and pooled employer plans (PEPs), which enable smaller businesses to share the administrative burden of offering a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan to their employees. On its own, a small company may not be equipped to handle the administrative costs, complexity, liability, and sheer amount of paperwork involved in many plans. Given these factors, it may make sense for an employer to outsource these responsibilities by joining a PEP.

Why consider the PEP? 

While most employers recognize the importance of offering key benefits like a retirement plan, many small businesses struggle to set it up on their own. The WTIA 401(k) team takes the guesswork out of implementation. The PEP is a turnkey retirement savings plan solution built by tech, for tech, which makes it easy and seamless to set up. However, employers can opt to customize their individual plan designs and offerings to suit the unique needs of their employee population.  

For instance, the PEP offers built-in plan design flexibility, including the ability to add an automatic enrollment feature. Not only would this meet the auto-enrollment requirement should the proposed retirement legislation become law, but it would also help boost participation and savings rates. Typically, automatic enrollment defaults employees into the plan at a date of the employer’s choosing (i.e., upon hire or after a three-month eligibility waiting period), however, there is an opt-out provision that allows employees to elect not to participate. 

According to recent research from Vanguard, participation rates triple to 91% among new hires when automatic enrollment is offered, compared to 28% with voluntary enrollment. And nine in 10 participants increase their deferral rate over time, either through automatic contribution increases or on their own. Pending legislation notwithstanding, these positive trends demonstrate the benefits of offering a retirement plan with an automatic enrollment provision.

Other benefits of the WTIA Tech PEP include:

  • The ability to leverage group purchasing power, which makes offering an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan more affordable for most companies, even growing and benefit-conscious businesses. We can set up a plan for as few as one or two employees, but with the PEP, employers receive the same caliber of service as larger plans.
  • The plan design is customizable, meaning you can select options that make sense for your company and employee population.
  • Flexible employer contribution options, such as matching, profit sharing, and more
  • A diverse lineup of top-performing fund families, including Vanguard’s target date series, Oppenheimer, and American Funds. Also available are socially responsible funds from Calvert and Pax. 
  • Administrative support, including discrimination testing, annual Form 5500 filings, and audits
  • Dedicated, personalized customer service, including one-on-one plan education for participants
  • The PEP benefits from partnerships with the experienced retirement planning professionals at Sound Consulting Services, which provides independent advice to 401(k) plan fiduciaries and participants, and the experts at NWPS, which delivers plan consulting and design, recordkeeping and actuarial, compliance and administration, and communication and participant services.
  • A free WTIA membership is included when you join the PEP. You can read more about membership benefits here.

The WTIA PEP delivers holistic fiduciary and administrative support for employers, along with pricing efficiencies and total transparency that other types of retirement plan offerings may not. In addition, it is run by a dedicated governing board for PEP members that includes participating employers as well as WTIA members, which means members’ best interests are a top priority. For all of these reasons, joining the WTIA PEP is an option worth considering. 

Offering a 401(k) plan can positively impact your organization’s ability to attract and retain the brightest talent in today’s ultra-competitive labor market. Reach out to us to discover how WTIA can help you build a retirement plan benefit for you and your employees. Visit http://www.washingtontechnology.org/services/401k/, or contact the 401(k) team at 401k@washingtontechnology.org.

The post Offering a 401(k) Plan Benefit Can Improve Recruiting and Retention While Reducing Turnover Costs appeared first on WTIA.

Wed, 11 Jan 2023 03:50:10 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAnVcxIh7eqc9aJCIqJppjfU
<![CDATA[As Recession Looms, Rethink Your Talent Acquisition Strategy to Include Apprenticeship and Reskilling]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAmWSNGXzhNoU4vmyuk5fxzE

A looming recession breeds uncertainty—in the economy, in business, and in the hearts and minds of individuals from the C-Suite to Main Street. While so much is uncertain, one thing is certain: The digital skills gap continues to grow in all industries, including tech.

A new year provides an opportunity for employers to adopt new ways of thinking when it comes to sourcing and recruiting talent. Specifically, now is the time to consider ways to align your talent acquisition strategy with your diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives as you look ahead to the coming year. Registered Apprenticeship is one solution to consider, as it produces a steady pipeline of diverse talent for your organization’s growing digital needs. Additionally, organizations like Apprenti, which creates alternative pathways for employers to access diverse talent, make it easy for both individual employers and workers to participate while vastly lowering hiring costs.

Recession Is an Opportunity to Reskill Your Workforce

Recessions are often synonymous with workforce reductions and pay cuts. Disadvantaged populations, such as racial and ethnic minorities, low-income individuals, and people with disabilities, typically are the hardest hit. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance—the deepest recession since World War II—minority households were disproportionately impacted; many more lost jobs and income, were unable to make rent and mortgage payments and were more likely to contract Covid.

The coming recession is an opportunity to do things differently. It is a chance for employers to interrupt the doom and gloom cycle of mass layoffs, lost wages, and widespread hardship by rethinking their workforce strategies and focusing on retention rather than reduction. Reskilling your workforce through Registered Apprenticeship is a proven way to extend job opportunities and economic mobility to underrepresented populations while addressing critical digital skills shortages. 

What’s more, building a diverse workforce isn’t about filling quotas or altruism. It’s a competitive imperative. A demographic sea change is coming: By 2045, white people will make up less than half of the U.S. population; the workforce will inevitably follow the same trajectory. Company leaders that recognize this demographic shift is coming and choose to view having a diverse workforce as a competitive tool will be poised to succeed. Those that don’t will face an ever-shrinking pool of qualified, available candidates for employment. This necessitates that organizations embrace new and innovative ways to access a diverse, sustainable, and highly-skilled workforce.

Additionally, not only do you stand to gain a competitive advantage for today and tomorrow by building a more diverse workforce, you gain an opportunity to become an employer of choice. Investing in your existing employees by giving them a chance to learn new skills and explore new career opportunities creates increased loyalty and job satisfaction and enhances your company’s retention and recruitment efforts. 

All of the above are reasons to consider reskilling your workforce in lieu of layoffs. And with Registered Apprenticeship, it’s actually easier and more cost-effective than most employers realize.  

Why Registered Apprenticeship?

If you’ve needed to hire digital skills talent in recent years, you’ve likely encountered a shortage of qualified candidates. In 2021, 900,000 tech jobs in the U.S. went unfilled. While most highly paid digital skills workers come from higher education or high-skilled worker visas, neither of these sources produces enough talent to meet employer demand. Higher education produces just 325,000 graduates in all STEM fields. Additionally, Congress grants only 85,000 H-1B visas each year, a program that enables U.S. employers to hire skilled workers from other countries on a temporary basis.

These so-called “traditional” talent pools are no longer adequate. Employers require a secondary system from which they can source and acquire talent. Envision a future where employers have two talent development pipelines: the university system and Registered Apprenticeship. Recently, Registered Apprenticeship has emerged in the national conversation as a viable pathway to creating jobs and economic mobility for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. Three-quarters of Americans don’t have access to a college education—Registered Apprenticeship programs give them a chance to obtain the training and skills they need to obtain higher-paying careers. Europe and Asia have adopted apprenticeships in multiple industries and continue to reap the benefits. The same opportunity exists in the U.S., so long as employers are willing to embrace apprenticeship as a workforce development strategy.

Apprenticeship is a proven strategy, recognized by the Department of Labor, that enables employers to reduce recruiting and hiring time while saving money by selecting and developing qualified candidates at training wages. It’s no longer confined to trade occupations, such as masons, electricians, and plumbers. A wide range of industries, including tech, financial services, healthcare, utilities, higher education, and insurance, now rely on apprenticeship as a ready-made source of talent to fill digital skills roles.  

The proof is in the numbers: Apprenti has successfully placed thousands of apprentices nationally since its inception in 2016, transitioning many from low-wage jobs and unemployment or underemployment to successful careers in roles such as software developer, cybersecurity analyst, Cloud operations specialist, game developer, and more. On average, Apprenti graduates earn $86,000 annually post-apprenticeship—a 115% increase in income. 

As evidenced by these outcomes, apprenticeship can provide a pathway to economic mobility and increased earnings potential for many. In particular, 92% of apprentices placed by Apprenti come from historically underrepresented groups, including people of color, women, and Veterans; 17% of apprentices identify as individuals with disabilities. In addition, Apprenti has an in-house access team dedicated to providing support to apprentices with disabilities and their employers.

What’s more, the cost savings to employers are significant. Hiring apprentices saves companies recruiting and turnover costs—88% of Apprenti apprentices are retained vs. 75% of employees recruited from higher education institutions. In addition, employers realize a 35% savings in salary with an apprentice vs. an employee recruited through more traditional channels.    

Why Reskilling is Relevant

Reskilling is the process of training for a new job by learning different skills. According to the World Economic Forum, “reskilling is one of the major necessities and challenges of our era.” 

Reskilling the workforce is top of mind for business leaders—74% say it’s important or very important for their company’s success over the next 12-18 months. It’s no wonder: the WEF estimates that 1 billion people worldwide will need to be reskilled by 2030 as technology continues to transform jobs and how we do them. Despite what the WEF calls a “reskilling emergency,” just 10% of company leaders report they’re ready to address this trend. 

Registered apprenticeships can help bridge the gap. They are often successful pathways for upskilling incumbent workers, filling skill gaps across an organization, and planning for skill gaps that can occur due to retirement, departmental layoffs, or mergers and acquisitions. For example, Apprenti has filled middle-skill roles with internal candidates to support the growth of existing employees. 

Reskilling via Registered Apprenticeship is an opportunity to retain existing workers, enhance your company’s workforce diversity, and lower your employment costs—without layoffs or pay cuts. It means current employees can grow their careers and remain with your organization; that’s a win-win for you and them. Incumbent employees are a known factor. They’re already embedded in your company’s culture and workflow, and there’s no additional cost of acquisition or onboarding time. 

Underrepresented groups tend to leave organizations because they feel marginalized or don’t have a sense of belonging or feel included. Investing in opportunities for career development and learning new skills can help foster loyalty and increased productivity among all employees, and underrepresented individuals in particular, because it shows that you’re committed to helping them grow for the future. That demonstration of commitment speaks volumes when it comes to enticing employees to remain with your organization and potentially make referrals to their network for future hires.  

Not to mention the savings that come with lower turnover rates. The average turnover rate across all industries is 57%, accounting for voluntary and involuntary turnover. And the cost of turnover is high: it’s estimated that losing an employee can cost a company 1.5 to 2 times their salary, not to mention lost productivity, missed deadlines, depleted team morale, and potential damage to the company’s brand reputation.  

Aren’t Apprenticeship Programs Complicated?

There’s a common misconception among employers that implementing apprenticeship programs is convoluted and complex. Nothing could be further from the truth. Apprenti provides a turnkey, structured solution that makes it simple for employers and individuals to participate while delivering significant cost savings for employers. 

With a recession on the horizon and a demographic transformation coming in the workforce, now is the time to rethink your talent acquisition strategies to include reskilling through Registered Apprenticeship. Recession isn’t a time to be in fear; it’s a time to embrace new opportunities. Existing talent pools aren’t enough to bridge the digital skills divide. That’s why reskilling through Registered Apprenticeship is a solution worth considering: It can help you create a competitive advantage and become an employer of choice while building a nimble, 21st-century workforce that’s ready and able to position your company to exit the recession poised for success and stronger than ever.

To learn more about Apprenti and how apprenticeship can help you reskill your existing workforce for the future, visit www.apprenticareers.org/hire.  

The post As Recession Looms, Rethink Your Talent Acquisition Strategy to Include Apprenticeship and Reskilling appeared first on WTIA.

Sat, 17 Dec 2022 03:01:42 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAmWSNGXzhNoU4vmyuk5fxzE
<![CDATA[Recruiting Veterans Can Help Your Organization Build a More Diverse, Inclusive Workforce]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAn2GeN-r0-1j7G7Iy_4u0x9

Apprenti is a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) that can help you tap into this often-overlooked, but highly skilled talent pool.

Diversity in the workplace is not about altruism or filling hiring quotas. Focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is a competitive imperative for all industries. Companies with diverse teams enjoy a greater speed of innovation, improved recruiting and retention, better productivity, increased profitability, and higher rates of employee satisfaction. And shifting demographics mean the workforce of the future will be more diverse than ever. By failing to embrace DEIA now, some companies may put their very survival in jeopardy. 

Nonetheless, employers are often challenged to find and recruit candidates from diverse backgrounds. When it comes to building a diverse workforce, military Veterans are an often-overlooked category of potential talent, despite being a highly skilled and employable population. Employers have the opportunity to reap myriad benefits from recruiting Veterans into their workforce. 

Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) offer an alternative pathway for companies to recruit Veterans. RAPs are recognized by the Department of Labor (DOL), and are a proven model of apprenticeship that are known for their capacity to scale across companies and industries; produce more consistent employment outcomes; and enable companies to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforces. 

Apprenti is a RAP that provides economic mobility to underrepresented groups, such as Veterans, people of color, women, and individuals with disabilities by identifying, training, and placing talent into careers in tech at an accelerated pace. As such, Apprenti empowers employers to bridge the pervasive talent and digital skills shortages by building their own pipeline of highly skilled, highly motivated, and diverse tech talent. Recruiting Veterans through an apprenticeship program like Apprenti can provide your organization with numerous benefits related to their training and government programs that may help improve your company’s financials.

Veterans Are Multi-Skilled

Veterans acquire training, experience, and a variety of transferable skills during their military service that would benefit most employers. They often:

  • Work well in teams
  • Are adaptable, dependable, disciplined, and proactive
  • Are excellent leaders and problem solvers
  • Have a strong sense of responsibility and accountability
  • Are goal-oriented
  • Have sound decision-making abilities
  • Are willing to learn and master new skills
  • Are able to cultivate skills to help them meet new challenges
  • Have higher levels of maturity and emotional intelligence

Adding Veterans to your team enables you to gain apprentices and employees who are flexible, natural leaders, and can develop a broad range of job skills. Additionally, it diversifies your workforce, which serves to better your organization.

By hiring Veterans, your company may also qualify for government tax benefits through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program (specific conditions apply). 

A Diverse Workforce Benefits Your Company

By 2035, the majority of the workforce will be made up of minorities. Companies, particularly in the tech industry, that don’t view DEIA as a competitive weapon risk falling behind. Today, most companies tend to rely on a largely homogeneous workforce made up primarily of white males to fill tech roles. To remain relevant and sustainable, industry employers need to do better when it comes to recruiting and retaining diverse candidates.

A talent pool made up of Veterans provides a ready-made opportunity. The U.S. military has a racial diversity percentage of 43% people of color, compared to the U.S. workforce, which is made up of 37% people of color. The Department of Veterans Affairs projects that minority veterans groups will grow from 23.2% of the total Veteran population in 2017 to 32.8% by 2037. 

In addition, the benefits of a diverse workforce are undeniable:  

  • Diverse teams lead to more innovation. Teams made up of individuals with varying skill sets, cultural backgrounds, and life experiences typically bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table. This allows leaders to tap into people’s strengths and leverage them to create higher-performing teams. In addition, a Harvard study found that “higher cognitive diversity leads to greater performance and faster learning — all factors that can spark creativity and innovation.”   
  • Companies are better able to recruit and retain talent. Younger generations are drawn to companies that reflect their values, and diversity, equity, and inclusion rank high on the list. In fact, DEI is a critical factor that millennials intentionally consider when deciding whether or not to join a company. Cultivating a culture that prioritizes DEI can help make your organization more appealing to prospective hires as well as existing employees. 
  • Employee engagement increases. Employees who feel a sense of belonging in an organization may be more likely to embrace opportunities to share and offer refreshing perspectives and ideas. Beyond higher retention rates, better-recruiting opportunities, and an enhanced brand reputation, fostering an inclusive environment can help increase overall employee satisfaction and engagement, and encourage greater professional and personal growth within your workforce. 

Apprenti Connects Veterans and Employers to Fill Tech Roles

Often, the challenge for Veterans is translating the skills and experiences they learned in the military to civilian careers. While their skills are transferable, Veterans don’t always know how to apply them, nor do hiring managers understand how their skill sets fit their needs.

That’s where Apprenti comes in. The Registered Apprenticeship program helps put Veterans on a fast track to a career in technology. Working with Apprenti enables Veterans to qualify and access military-provided education and training benefits such as the GI Bill; Veteran Readiness and Employment for Veterans with a service-connected disability; and the DOD SkillBridge program, which allows Veterans to gain civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during their last 180 days of service. Apprenti also offers services for Veterans with disabilities through its dedicated Access Team, which helps apprentices identify and implement accommodations and provides equal access for all during the apprenticeship program.   

Additionally, Apprenti can match employers with qualified Veterans, who will receive classroom and on-the-job training relevant to the roles in which they are placed as apprentices. In this way, Apprenti helps employers source diverse candidates, including Veterans, quickly and easily to fill critical tech positions. As such, employers can take advantage of opportunities to diversify their workforce, reap the competitive benefits of diverse teams, and build a strong workforce for the future.   

If you’re considering expanding your workforce through apprenticeship, and are interested in hiring Veterans, you can visit our website to learn more about Apprenti Veteran Services and how we partner with employers to help you build a thriving, diverse workforce for the 21st century.

The post Recruiting Veterans Can Help Your Organization Build a More Diverse, Inclusive Workforce appeared first on WTIA.

Sat, 05 Nov 2022 00:35:49 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAn2GeN-r0-1j7G7Iy_4u0x9
<![CDATA[Cleo Provides Support and Peace of Mind for Employees and Their Families]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlHTSJZJxj_vKJCIqJppjfU

Finding a balance between raising a family and being a working parent can be a challenge. As WTIA Association Health Plan (AHP) members, you and your employees don’t have to go it alone. WTIA has partnered with Cleo to help you better support your employees and their families on their parenting journey.

Cleo provides personalized guidance from family planning to expecting up through parenting children up to age 12. It’s a comprehensive support system designed to help current and future parents make the best possible decisions from everyday moments to critical challenges in their unique parenting experience. 

Cleo Guides Deliver 1:1 Support

When they enroll, your employees have the option to be paired with a dedicated Cleo Guide. Cleo Guides are trained and certified parenting experts who can provide 1:1 virtual support on a variety of topics. Employees are paired with a Cleo Guide that aligns with their values or unique parenting journey. For example, parents of special needs children have the option to be paired with a Guide who specializes in children with special needs, or a person of color can be paired with a Guide who is also of color. This personalized support is designed to celebrate individuals from a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences and help answer your employees’ questions (big and small), making parenting moments easier for them and their families. Cleo Guides have extensive experience working with families and are specialists in the issues and challenges your employees and their families may face. 

Cleo Guides support families in 15+ languages, which means your employees can get support and guidance in their native language. The available languages include English, Spanish, French, Farsi, Danish, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Mandarin, Polish, Quebecois French, Russian, Turkish, and Urdu. Employees can also message their Guide and set up phone and video calls, depending on their communication preferences. 

The Cleo App Offers Families Opportunities to Learn and Connect

In addition to a Guide, the Cleo app offers a comprehensive library of content, resources, tips, and live and on-demand events to assist parents and caregivers as questions and new milestones come up. The Cleo app features information on topics like childcare, child development, career, sleep, family dynamics, feeding, and more. 

If they choose, employees can add a partner or family support member to the Cleo app (as long as the employee meets eligibility requirements). That person will also have access to the Cleo app, Guide, and available Cleo benefits. Cleo also offers personalized tips tailored to the needs of your employees and their families, as well as a centralized hub for their health, childcare, and family support benefits. 

Employees will always have access to their Cleo Guide, but they can also sign up for 1:1 sessions with specialists like sleep coaches and lactation consultants. Additionally, they can get their questions answered on a wide range of topics through virtual community workshops and expert Q&As through the Cleo app on subjects ranging from “Journeys to Parenthood” and “Prepping for the Newborn Phase” to “Back to School” and “Finding and Defining Your Parenting Style” and more. 

Employees can use Cleo whether they have one or more children 12 and under, are looking to grow their family, or are expecting. Cleo can help working parents and caregivers with almost any parenting question, concern, or challenge. From considering and family planning to pregnancy/adoption/surrogacy, up through raising preteens, Cleo is there to support your employees. They aren’t limited in the number of sessions or resources they can access with Cleo. 

WTIA will offer Cleo for new employer groups that sign up for health benefits effective Dec. 1, 2022, and later. Cleo will be available for existing WTIA health plan clients in Q1 2023. WTIA will provide Cleo free of charge to employer groups for the first year.

For more information about how to help your employees make the most of Cleo to get support on their parenting journey, visit www.hicleo.com, contact your broker, or reach out to Raven Mencias at rmencias@washingtontechnology.org



The post Cleo Provides Support and Peace of Mind for Employees and Their Families appeared first on WTIA.

Tue, 01 Nov 2022 10:00:09 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAlHTSJZJxj_vKJCIqJppjfU
<![CDATA[The Power of Authenticity, Compassion, and Vulnerability in Leadership]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu84HQhe4ZUzd

Leaders who are authentic, compassionate, and vulnerable have the power to transform organizations. No matter the level in an organization—CEO, team lead, or project manager—being an authentic leader starts with building relationships, then fostering trust and confidence in people to inspire them to work hard. That trust must be earned, and it doesn’t happen overnight. 

A Harvard Business Review survey found that 58% of employees trust a stranger on the street more than they do their own boss. 

So there’s work to be done. 

All the world’s a stage

There is a common misconception that authentic leadership means just showing up as yourself. I disagree. Whether you recognize it or not, every leader is playing a role. Authenticity comes from taking that role seriously. Think of it like being a stage actor: You’re playing the role of CEO, senior executive, or team lead. The question each person needs to ask themself is this: “Who will I be while I do this role?” 

If I show up as my authentic self, then when I’m in a bad mood and have a need to vent my frustration, my fellow actors will find me difficult to work with. By contrast, if I’m focused on the script, the audience, and the conditions in each moment—I make it possible for others to perform their roles. If you prefer sports to theater, a similar metaphor applies to athletes on a team. For the team to perform, you need to play your position well, supporting your teammates in their positions and enabling them to excel. 

If you recognize that you’re playing a role and that your words and actions will be interpreted by the people in the audience, you have to read the room from moment to moment. Let’s say, for example, you’ve eaten some eggs for breakfast that didn’t agree with you, and you’re making a pained expression in front of a room full of people. You know you’ve got indigestion, but all they see is their leader making an unpleasant face. So they start to worry: “Is the company in trouble?” “Is someone going to get fired today?” 

When you notice concerned faces staring back at you, then you have to be intuitive and compassionate enough to take a step back, slow down, and ask yourself what’s going on. Why are they reacting this way? Are you reading the room right? You need to understand the situation that’s unfolding and be aware enough to check-in. As an authentic and compassionate leader, you get the opportunity to reveal, “Look, the eggs I had for breakfast this morning aren’t sitting well. I’m sorry. Let’s start over.” 

During difficult conversations or in moments of uncertainty, it’s critical to take notes:

  • What’s the situation?
  • What is your relationship in that situation? 
  • What might be clouding your judgment right now?
  • What can you do to be helpful in that moment?

The relationship that leaders have with their team, and with each of the individuals on that team, is ultimately what inspires them to remain dedicated to their work for an extended period of time. This is especially true during a complex project or when a company is in growth mode and the outcome is unclear. People need faith, trust, and confidence in their leaders to continue their efforts through doubt and uncertainty. Showing up as a human being that shows compassion for yourself and others creates the trust necessary for everyone to go the distance, together.

Showing up 100% as you are isn’t enough. Instead, it’s required that you dedicate yourself to performing the leadership role you are playing. When you grow as a leader, continue to ask yourself, “how do I function in a way that models compassion?” This awareness is vital, both in celebrating achievements and addressing unpleasant challenges. 

Vulnerability is not a weakness

As a leader, you may fear that by being vulnerable, you appear weak. You may fear that your board, stakeholders, or employees will lose confidence in you. In my nearly 40-year career, across industries, sectors, and countries, I’ve never found vulnerability to be a weakness.

It’s easier for people to believe in you if they trust you, and leading with bravado isn’t a way to build trust. Bravado will work until you fail—and you will fail. That’s when your ego house of cards will topple.

Being vulnerable means you have to be accountable and admit your mistakes. This approach will give people the confidence to call you out when you’ve said or done something that appears contradictory to your prior position, or something that makes them feel uncomfortable. If you demonstrate that you’re willing to listen and learn, then you will hear essential feedback early and can course-correct when it’s less costly to do so.

The bottom line

Early on in my career, I learned that showing up as “the boss” doesn’t inspire people to follow you or work hard. A metaphor I keep coming back to is Shakespeare’s “Henry V”. Most of the projects we encounter, especially in the tech industry, are like the Battle of Agincourt, when Henry had to lead his soldiers into battle from the most vulnerable, dangerous front.

While Henry’s vulnerability was literal (his life was on the line), the key takeaway is this: We must be willing to put our egos aside, roll up our sleeves, and work hard alongside our teams toward a common goal. Ultimately, when we are willing to be authentic, compassionate, vulnerable leaders, the respect and trust that creates will multiply across the organization, resulting in greater transparency, stronger relationships, and highly motivated and empowered teams.

If this way of thinking resonates, I wrote a book on the topic some years ago. It still serves as my touchstone on a daily basis.

The post The Power of Authenticity, Compassion, and Vulnerability in Leadership appeared first on WTIA.

Tue, 25 Oct 2022 04:37:32 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu84HQhe4ZUzd
<![CDATA[Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Actions Speak Louder Than Words]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu0QqW5gBv7mX

In 2020, following a tumultuous summer that witnessed the senseless and tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, WTIA made a conscious decision to lead the tech industry in taking a stand to eradicate racial injustice by launching the Anti-Racism in Tech Pact and the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Center of Excellence. 

We did not act alone.

  • The initial Pact meeting brought together more than 150 CEOs to discuss a critical goal: ending systemic racism in technology companies within five years.
  • Fifty CEOs signed onto the Pact immediately, declaring their commitment to creating lasting change in their organizations.
  • Today, more than 70 companies have signed the Pact.

The Pact’s primary commitment is to: “Work diligently to ensure that within five years from signing this Pact, our company fully reflects the populations in which we operate, including the board of directors, management, and all of our employees.” For example, in King County today this would mean approximately 6% Black and 9% Latinx, and nationally, this would mean 18% Black and 14% Latinx.  

The Pact was not the beginning of our efforts. WTIA has a long-standing commitment to DEI: 

  • In 2013, the WTIA board was composed of 90% white males over the age of 45. Today, we have a highly diverse group of people who help shape the strategic direction for the three main companies that make up the WTIA. 
  • Our DEI work then extended to events and learning opportunities, ensuring that speakers and attendees included a wide array of gender, race, ethnicity, age, and other diverse identities.
  • Apprenti was launched in 2017 and was our first successful foray into helping other companies gain access to more diverse talent.

Leaders must commit to DEI first

Recently, we surveyed Pact signatories, which found that many of those companies are making advances in DEI by following the recommendations in the Anti-Racism in Tech Pact Roadmap, a guide that outlines proactive steps companies can take to articulate and deliver on their DEI goals and measure their progress along the way. Survey respondents noted that they’re focused on keeping top leaders engaged in DEI efforts amid many competing priorities stemming from the pandemic and related operational and economic challenges.

Rightly so. Without an unwavering commitment from leadership, DEI initiatives cannot succeed. If leadership doesn’t see diversity as a competitive advantage, or essential to the company’s success, and their core values aren’t aligned with those beliefs, even the most well-intentioned DEI strategies will falter.

It isn’t enough for leaders to be held accountable for meeting DEI metrics or mastering competencies. The tech industry has spent billions of dollars on diversity initiatives in the last couple of years, and the workforce demographics haven’t changed. There’s still the same percentage of women and people of color, and the numbers are leaner among management ranks. Recruiting has improved somewhat, but retention has not. So companies can recruit women and people of color, but they don’t stay because those groups don’t feel accepted or included.

For company leaders, this commitment starts with the self. Do you truly believe in DEI, and that it is essential in creating better teams and a better, more competitive company? DEI isn’t about being magnanimous or doing what’s morally right for social justice. It’s about personal accountability and enlightened self-interest, and it starts with the leaders at the top.

If you have the courage as a leader to champion DEI, and your commitment is genuine rather than performative, then you can put in place systemic accountability where leadership holds itself, staff, and partners to a standard of excellence regarding what diversity means and how it contributes to a company’s successonly then do you have an opportunity to engineer real change.

This matters because a monumental shift in the workforce is coming. By 2035, the U.S. workforce demographics will be made up of a majority of non-white workers. Tech companies that understand and embrace that a sea change is coming, and take radical action to build organizations that can recruit, retain and develop diverse teams will win. Those that don’t will likely fail.

How our DEI strategy is taking shape

WTIA is modeling the work of systemic change within an organization through our own internal DEI strategy:

  • Throughout the past nearly 10 years, we have successfully shifted the makeup of our Board from mostly white males to a group that is both personally and professionally diverse.
  • We also retooled our events, including the topics, speakers, and panelists to make sure they appealed to and attracted a more diverse audience.
  • Finally, we focused on staffing, especially on our senior leadership team. In a group of nine leaders, we have two men and seven women, and there are five people of color.
  • We also articulated our core values and made sure they were tied to the organization’s mission and vision of the organization.

How we can help

We’re not just talking about diversity; we’re making it happen. And that’s our vision for our partners—to help them do the same. The benefit of having done the work ourselves is we have firsthand experience to share with those who choose to go on this journey with us. We can credibly point them in the right direction, and connect them with the programs, consultants, and experts who can help them reach their DEI goals.

The DEI Center of Excellence and The Diversity Way-MakerTM provide leadership coaching and training to guide senior leadership teams through a process of self-assessment and discovery so they can uncover their biases and promote anti-racism throughout their organizations. Leaders also learn how to use that information to define their company’s mission statement around diversity and how it fits into their values. A team of expert consultants with collective decades of experience in human resources and DEI can provide education for the entire staff and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level and function of a company. In this way, organizations can learn to fully embrace and harness the competitive power of diversity, which is critical to their survival—today and tomorrow. 

Learn more about the WTIA DEI Center of Excellence and Diversity Way-MakerTM and how we can help you harness the power of a diverse workforce to cultivate a culture of inclusion within your organization and gain a competitive advantage.

The post Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Actions Speak Louder Than Words appeared first on WTIA.

Wed, 12 Oct 2022 04:47:52 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu0QqW5gBv7mX
<![CDATA[Building a 21st-Century Workforce: Why Registered Apprenticeship Programs Will Bridge the Digital Skills Divide]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu-m6srrLMsqK

Half of the global workforce will require reskilling or upskilling by 2025, according to the 2020 Citrix Talent Accelerator report. The outsized demand for talent and the resulting skills shortage is a trend that will persist without rapid and lasting change. Employers have no alternative but to invest in alternative pathways to create talent, rather than simply consuming it via the traditional routes of college, visas, and recruiting from peers. Working independently will not scale a solution. Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) are an effective public/private partnership that provide a viable solution for creating standardized and portable talent while building a consistent pipeline of qualified candidates. 

Apprenticeship is a significant topic in the national public policy spotlight at present as legislators consider ways to address workforce development and reduce unemployment in America. There’s no question that apprenticeship is seen as a viable and valuable pathway to higher-paying careers for Americans who might not otherwise have access to the necessary education and training to acquire the skills they need to be successful. At issue, however, is the approach our nation should adopt as the so-called “gold standard”: Registered Apprenticeship Programs vs. Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). 

Apprenti is a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) that empowers employers to bridge the pervasive talent and digital skills shortages by building their own pipeline of highly skilled, highly motivated, and diverse tech talent. We believe RAPs are a better solution because they can scale across companies and industries; produce more consistent employment outcomes; and enable companies to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforces.

Solving for the Digital Skills Shortage

Employers who’ve engaged in hiring tech talent are aware of the talent shortage plaguing the United States. Particularly when it comes to digital skills, such as software developers, cybersecurity analysts, and Cloud operations, there simply aren’t enough skilled workers to fill these roles. In 2021, 900,000 tech jobs in the U.S. went unfilled. 

College and high-skilled worker visas are the primary pathways to high-paying careers, but neither produce enough talent to meet market demand. Higher education produced only 325,000 graduates in all STEM fields, most of which are not directly related to the skills required; and Congress grants just 85,000 H-1B visas annually, a program that allows U.S. employers to hire workers from other countries on a temporary basis. Though these are meant to serve all industries, the tech industry consumes the lion’s share of those visas each year. However, the program is highly competitive, rendering it unreliable. It is also cost-prohibitive for many employers: A recent study showed a 20% premium paid for H-1B workers, making it an expensive solution even if it were expanded. 

Additionally, there are millions of tech-related vacancies across industries and sectors that can’t be filled with people who are skilled enough to do the work. This presents an opportunity for companies to invest in reskilling, which is teaching Americans new skills unrelated to their current job or career so they can advance to a new job or industry. For instance, a service worker can be trained and receive accelerated classroom training combined with mentorship and on-the-job experience via the Registered Apprenticeship system and become a software developer at a Fortune 500 company. 

Comparing Registered Apprenticeship and IRAPs

Apprenticeship has existed since the Middle Ages; it is a time-tested method for employers to recruit, build, and retain a highly skilled workforce. Workers gain paid, relevant, on-the-job work experience while acquiring real-world skills and credentials employers value. Despite their longevity, when most Americans think about apprenticeship, they relate it to trade vocations such as masonry, construction, and plumbing. However, the apprenticeship model is broadly applicable in all sectors, including technology, healthcare (residency), legal (clerking), and financial services, as demonstrated globally. 

While some have advocated for a “non-registered” approach to apprenticeship (IRAP) to reduce perceived barriers like compliance, government engagement, and paperwork, RAPs are both nimble, because they are defined by industry, and provide national consistency, credentials, and portability of our joint investment. In addition, RAPs have significant, fundamental and systemic benefits that impact companies’ ability to recruit, train, reskill, and retain qualified and more diverse candidates.

RAPs were created under the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937 (also known as the Fitzgerald Act). Previously, apprenticeship programs were largely unregulated; the National Apprenticeship Act put control of apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs under the Secretary of Labor, created an Office of Apprenticeship within the Department of Labor (DOL), and established a proven model for the DOL to support workforce development in highly skilled occupations. RAPs also offer incentives such as technical assistance, tax credits, and federal resources to enable employer-based mentorship for apprentices.

For their part, IRAPs were established in 2019 via a DOL-proposed amendment to the Labor Standards for the Registration of Apprenticeship Programs. The DOL announced the final rule on IRAPs in March 2020. However, new IRAP programs were rendered defunct in 2021. IRAPs were created to provide flexibility in how each company structured and administered apprenticeships individually. IRAPs would have been overseen by third party accreditors known as Standard Recognition Entities (SREs), which evaluated and recognized these programs, and were still governed and documented by DOL regulations. 

Employers who participate as hiring partners in a RAP have the advantage of being able to pay their apprentices a federally protected training wage and benefit from state and federal subsidies and investment. In contrast, employers who go the IRAP route would still be subject to state and local laws and cannot benefit from any tax incentives or government investment. 

Here’s how that works in practice. Let’s say an employer recruits two individuals, a college graduate and an apprentice, to do the same job. The apprentice signs on for a year of apprenticeship and learns that the college graduate is earning 30% more for the same role. Under a RAP, the employer is protected from being sued for wage discrimination because the apprentice has agreed to be paid a training wage while they’re earning and learning. In an IRAP, however, those protections wouldn’t exist. In states where salaries must be disclosed legally, an apprentice could challenge the pay disparity in court.

Funding variances are another noteworthy difference. In a Registered Apprenticeship system, Congress grants money to states to support training costs. In many cases, that means the company subsidizes the cost of training for the apprentice to ensure the individual is ready to do the job. In an IRAP, it wouldn’t work that way. Either the company would pay 100% for the training, or be forced to search the open market and hope they could find people to do the work. Additionally, the company would still have to do more onboarding when the candidate got there. Operating the apprenticeship would fall exclusively on the company staff; in addition, there’s no incentive provided to the company to offset or support talent creation internally. This applies to all apprentices, industries, and sectors. 

Understanding the Value of RAPs

Considering all of this, what is the value of the Registered Apprenticeship model for employers? First, it provides national standardization, as roles and expectations are defined by a consortium of companies that define the skills needed to be retained, which are then “approved” by the U.S. DOL. This applies to the documentation process used to determine core competencies for apprentices, to the classroom training that prepares them, to the industry language used in job descriptions and interviews, and to the work being done on the job. 

Additionally, Registered Apprentices receive a credential at the end of their training that lets employers know they are fully competent in a given role, and they can perform that set of skills at most companies. This makes the apprentice easier to recruit for future positions because they’re able to do the work and understand the universal language and industry standards that apply to that role. They can easily demonstrate that knowledge during the interview process. It also makes Registered Apprentices more retainable, because they’ve invested their time and effort into learning the skills required to provide maximum value to the employer. In this way, Registered Apprenticeship creates a holistic ecosystem of talent that is scalable, sustainable, and portable—across state lines, industry verticals, and companies. 

By contrast, non-registered programs, such as internships and IRAPs, lack standardized structure, paperwork, training, and language. Therefore, individuals in those programs don’t have the same learnings and credentials to ensure they meet the minimum requirements to stay in the job and keep doing it long term. That means they are not sustainable and that HR departments have no discernable way of qualifying non-college educated, non-traditional candidates against the applicant pool. Thus, it actually creates more work for companies, not less. 

The case for RAPs vs. Degrees

At Apprenti, 11% of our apprentices graduate early—they complete the program and are retained ahead of schedule, meaning under one year of work experience. This means 89% still need the full term of a year on the job to assimilate fully into the role and be retained. Most IRAPs are considerably shorter, and with lower retention. RAPs are a long-term talent development pipeline—not a short-term solution meant for appearances. 

Additionally, not everyone has access to a college education. With only 30% of Americans going to college and 25% graduating, what happens to the other 75%? Europe and Asia have it figured out—the answer is apprenticeship. America has been a little slow to adopt that proposition, and there is still this prevailing belief that college is THE pathway to a successful career. 

However, it’s important to consider the capacity of the college system—STEM degree programs aren’t lacking in enrollments. There is no way financially or systematically to quadruple the output of the college system without eroding fidelity in the outcomes, and if we are learning anything right now from the student loan system, there is less and less appetite by the American public to sink into debt to attain a degree—so investing in that capacity may not yield the results we claim to need.

The time has come to meet the talent on the field and negotiate a way forward together. Not all jobs require a degree. We need to stop treating all jobs equally and allow for alternative training to support our systems. We need to invest in a system that can scale with the industry’s growing tech needs. For those who are serious about creating inclusive work environments, the apprenticeship system is the best opportunity we can create to kill both birds with one stone.

The post Building a 21st-Century Workforce: Why Registered Apprenticeship Programs Will Bridge the Digital Skills Divide appeared first on WTIA.

Tue, 11 Oct 2022 22:25:33 +0200 http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu-m6srrLMsqK
<![CDATA[Accessibility: The Missing Piece in Your Workplace DEI Initiative]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu-ifqJurszLU

Every October, we join in the celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). It was established by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to highlight the extensive contributions of America’s workers with disabilities and continues to serve as a way to educate society about disability employment issues. Apprenti, which creates alternative pathways for employers to access diverse talent and solve the digital skills shortage through Registered Apprenticeship, supports apprentices of all abilities by removing barriers to learning and working. 

Disabilities are more common than many employers may realize. One in four American adults lives with a disability, however, only 3-5% of individuals in the workforce self-identify as having a disability. The significant discrepancy has propelled us to envision a workplace where individuals do not feel pressured to hide their disability and where accessibility is proactively integrated, not a mere afterthought. Organizations that are inclusive and accessible experience a variety of benefits. 

Investing in Disability Makes Business Sense

By embracing disability inclusion, employers can gain access to a new talent pool of 10.7 million people. Additionally, inclusive and accessible workplaces report 28% higher revenue, 2x net income, and 30% higher economic profit margins. The significant return on investment can be attributed to taking steps to build empathy for their customer base, constructing systems that mitigate conscious and unconscious bias, and improving employee retention.

Employing a diverse staff with differing viewpoints can also grow the bottom line. The tech industry relies on divergent thinkers to identify novel solutions to complex problems amidst a rapidly changing landscape. Individuals with disabilities constantly seek creative solutions to close the gap between their current ability and the environment in order to complete daily living tasks. Those real-world experiences translate to valuable skills that can be applied on the job.

Accessibility Benefits All Individuals

To attract and retain top talent, it is critical to construct an inclusive workplace—one where everyoneincluding individuals with disabilitiesfeels welcomed, respected, and has equal opportunities to participate. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which governs disability regulations, accessibility is defined as “the design of products, devices, services, vehicles, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities.” In practice, accessible design removes barriers to participation. This yields success for all employees and their employers.

By integrating accessibility standards with universal design principles, we strive to improve the baseline experience for as many users as possible. Here are a few tips to expand your diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives: 

  • Digital accessibility: Accessible design helps ensure that everyone can equally perceive, operate, understand, and interact with digital websites and tools (website, CRM, emails, documents). For example, an individual who is blind or visually impaired may utilize a screen reader that reads aloud the information on a web page. Hearing content read out loud via a screen reader can also improve reading comprehension and reading speed for individuals with dyslexia.
  • Universal design for learning: Technical and on-the-job training instruction should be designed to provide multiple means of representation, engagement, and expression. For example, when an instructor or mentor is communicating new concepts to an apprentice, they should aim to deliver the information in different ways such as lecture style, visual diagrams, written notes, etc.
  • Flexible work hours: Flexible work schedules can benefit an employee with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who may need an extended lunch break to help them recharge so they can be more focused and productive during the afternoon hours. However, it may also be helpful for a parent who needs flexible work hours to drop off or pick their children up from school. 

Accessibility doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be as simple as clicking a few buttons. One simple way to make any meeting more accessible is to turn on closed captioning. This enables individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to have full access to meeting information. It can also benefit someone with dyslexia, an English language learner (ELL), or someone who is in a loud environment and unable to listen with the sound on. These are just a few strategies to promote equity in the workplace.

Hire Talent with Disabilities Through Apprenticeship

Registered apprenticeship creates a diverse pool of individuals who are trained in occupationally specific skills needed in high-demand fields. This proven workforce strategy, recognized by the Department of Labor, allows employers to reduce recruiting and hiring time by developing qualified talent at training wages.

Apprenti targets placements for women, Veterans, people of color, and individuals with disabilities, providing them with best-in-class, relevant classroom technical and on-the-job training that prepares them for a variety of in-demand tech careers that require digital skills, such as software developer, cybersecurity analyst, network security administrator, cloud operations specialist, and more.

Unsure Where to Start? Apprenti Can Help!

Apprenti’s dedicated Access Team supports apprentices and employers throughout the apprenticeship journey. The Access Team demystifies the accommodation process by outlining clear steps, offering a human-centered interview framework, and identifying solutions for all stakeholders.

As outlined above, employers can foster a culture of inclusion and belonging by ensuring they have clear and simple accessibility standards in place, from recruiting to hiring and onboarding and beyond. Companies with inclusive hiring practices and workplaces not only gain access to a broader and deeper talent pool, but also exhibit measurable improvements in performance, productivity, and profitability. For employers seeking talent to fill in-demand roles via alternative pathways, such as apprenticeship, Apprenti’s Access Team offers resources and support to identify and implement accommodations that provide equal access to all apprentices so they can be successful. 

Below are additional resources for employers interested in creating a more disability-inclusive workplace, or who want to learn more about Apprenti’s Access Team:  

The post Accessibility: The Missing Piece in Your Workplace DEI Initiative appeared first on WTIA.

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<![CDATA[ESG Funds in 401(k) Plans Allow Participants to Embrace Values-Based Investing]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu5u9CxXrVx4c

Growing numbers of employers are choosing to include ESG (environmental, social, and governance)  investments in their 401(k) plan lineups. Increasingly, American workers, especially millennials and Generation Z, are opting to invest their retirement dollars into ESG funds due to their values-driven investing strategies. In 2020, millennial investors contributed $51.1 billion to ESG funds. 

ESG funds are often referred to as “socially responsible,” “sustainable,” or “impact” investments. Today, workers across all generations are seeking to invest in funds that focus on factors such as climate change, social justice, gender equality, and similar issues. 

By offering ESG funds in their retirement plans, employers have an opportunity to attract, retain, and reward investors who want to make a positive impact. Recognizing a chance to support our members in enhancing their retirement plan benefits, WTIA recently added several ESG funds to the investment lineup in the 401(k) Tech Multiple Employer Plan (MEP). Currently, 1% of the plan’s assets are invested in these funds. 

To help employers understand the potential benefits of offering ESG funds and why employees value the opportunity to invest with their hearts, we sat down with Rob Raphael, AIF, CFPA, a senior retirement plan consultant with SCS. SCS is a Bellevue, WA-based retirement plan consulting and wealth management firm that partners with WTIA on its multiple-employer plan (MEP) offering. 

Why are ESG funds in retirement plans getting so much attention?

There is a rising interest, especially among younger retirement plan participants, to direct their investment dollars into socially conscious companies. Participants are becoming more aware and concerned about their retirement savings going to corporations and industries that may be negatively impacting our environment and society.

What makes ESG funds different from traditional mutual funds?

ESG is not an investing approach. It’s an umbrella term for material non-financial factors used in determining what a corporation should be invested in. 

ESG is data in three realms that match corporate behavior as it affects people. Specifically, there are three general areas that ESG fund managers focus on primarily for corporations to invest in:

  1. Environmental, which includes how companies impact climate change, resource depletion, deforestation, waste management, pollution, etc.
  2. Social, which includes human rights, child labor, working conditions, diversity and inclusion, corporate culture, etc.
  3. Governance, which includes bribery and corruption, executive pay, risk management, tax strategy, board diversity and structure, etc.

While non-ESG mutual funds may not focus on these data factors as a primary consideration, there is data coming out that, for example, governance factors into the decision-making process that determines whether a mutual fund invests in a corporation. This is called “integration,” where some ESG factors are used, but they aren’t the main driver.

What is the appeal of values-based investing?

There are two ways people generally invest: with their hearts or their minds. “With their hearts” means these are investors who care where they put their 401(k) dollars to work. They are concerned about the environmental, social, and governance factors more than the financial factors in terms of long-term financial impacts.

Investors that lead with their minds are focused primarily on strong financial outcomes, even if it means that some of the companies they are investing in may be involved in non-ESG concerns, such as fossil fuels, deforestation, board diversity and structure issues, etc. 

Investment companies are making a shift; many are starting to factor or integrate certain ESG components, such as corporate governance, into their overall investment decision process.

How can ESG investing help build sustainability for future generations, particularly from a wealth-building standpoint? 

Innovation brings change. By putting a greater emphasis on holding companies more accountablewhile helping them realize that putting their resources and dollars into areas of the economy, society, and environment could potentially be just as or more profitablethere is a possibility that wealth growth could follow as more investors put their money into ESG funds and drive the prices up. As with all investments, there is no guarantee of returns. 

The overall goal of ESG investors is to have a sustainable planet here where future generations can live and thrive. That is an asset you can’t put a price tag on. 

Why should employers consider including ESG funds in their investment lineup?

It provides investors a “best of both worlds” opportunity to choose either heart or mind investing, or both, when it comes to where they direct their retirement savings. 

There is research that has shown that corporations that include certain ESG factors can have positive outcomes in corporate cost of capital, operational, and market performance. For heart-led investors, this is great news because the way in which they are voting with their retirement dollars is causing corporations to rethink how they operate and their impact on people and the planet.

Should employers consider offering ESG funds to enhance their potential to recruit talent?

Yes, any time employers can offer something that may appeal to employees without increasing company costs, it is something to consider. Younger employees, in particular, are focused on the environment and are concerned with having the option to decide where they invest for retirement. 

That being said, employees aren’t clamoring for ESG funds yet, but demand is growing.

Is ESG fund management something employers can outsource? Why should they consider doing so?

Regulation around ESG funds is still in its infancy. The SEC has been working on guidelines in terms of oversight and how and when an ESG mutual fund can be selected for a corporate retirement plan. As a fiduciary, either as an owner, officer, or investment committee member, it is important to seek outside investment advice from an investment advisor who is knowledgeable in this area. Determining the objective of your organization’s investment philosophy for your corporate retirement plan is crucial. 

Offering ESG funds alongside traditional mutual funds/exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can be a great way to appease all types of investors in a retirement plan. 

From a fiduciary perspective, in the current regulatory environment, employers are generally focused on financial factors over ESG factors. The balance between heart and mind investment philosophies in corporate retirement plans is likely to tip in favor of financial (mind) outcomes over ESG (heart) outcomes. 

What can you tell us about the ESG funds in the MEP? 

The MEP offers both ESG and non-ESG funds. Both allow a participant to build a diversified portfolio. The ESG funds include a variety of asset classes, such as large-cap, mid-cap, small-cap, international, and fixed income, so a participant could diversify their retirement investments using only ESG factors if they choose to.

To learn more about the WTIA 401(k) Tech MEP and the ESG fund lineup, visit our website or email us at 401k@washingtontechnology.org.   

The post ESG Funds in 401(k) Plans Allow Participants to Embrace Values-Based Investing appeared first on WTIA.

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<![CDATA[Apprenti Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week Highlighting Success of Amazon Technical Apprenticeship Program]]> http://api.follow.it/track-rss-story-click/v3/ajjnt_qHAAkUwxc5trKfu0Gb1Jh49AJn

Demand for Tech Workers Highlights Apprenti’s National Role in Building a Diverse and Robust Workforce

SEATTLE, WA – November 14, 2022 – Apprenti, a national leader in registered tech apprenticeships, is celebrating its partnership with Amazon to source, assess, train, and place tech talent through registered apprenticeships as part of National Apprenticeship Week, which runs November 14-20, 2022. Over the last five years, Apprenti has placed more than 2,000 apprentices in tech roles and over 1000 veterans at Amazon. 

“Registered tech apprenticeships are a critical part of addressing the nation’s pressing workforce needs,” said Jennifer Carlson, Executive Director of Apprenti. “We need to rapidly increase the number of people in the tech field to help organizations address acute digital skills shortages. By working with hiring partners like Amazon, we’re able to bridge the gap and place diverse talent into high-paying jobs.”

Through Apprenti, Amazon’s Technical Apprenticeship Program helps people transition to careers in cloud computing. Even without previous technical experience, apprentices gain valuable skills through a paid training course coupled with on-the-job training to best prepare them for careers at Amazon where their work makes a global impact.

“Apprenti has helped us create pathways to rewarding careers at Amazon for hundreds of veterans, many of which did not have prior technical experience,” said XXX at Amazon. “Through our apprenticeship program, military veterans have transitioned into cloud computing jobs that provide upward economic mobility and valuable career experience in a fast growing field.”

Amazon and Apprenti’s Technical Apprenticeship Program is now the largest of its kind in the country and a model for other organizations looking to launch their own apprenticeship programs. As a recipient of the federal grant program, Good Jobs Challenge, Apprenti is working to replicate this success by training more tech workers across multiple states. The Good Jobs Challenge highlights workforce development as key to accelerating local economic growth.

“When I was transitioning out of the military, I knew I wanted to enter the tech industry, but I didn’t know how to get there. To make it even trickier, I didn’t have a traditional IT background or degree,” said Karla Navarrete, Amazon Systems Development Engineer, EC2 Nitro and U.S. Army Veteran. “Amazon’s Technical Apprenticeship program has significantly impacted my career in the best way possible.”

On November 14 and 15, Amazon will graduate its next class of apprentices. Apprenti will also host a national apprenticeship graduation on November 17.

About Apprenti
Apprenti, a 501(c)3 non-profit, delivers registered apprenticeship programs to bridge the tech talent and diversity gaps. By adapting the time-tested model of apprenticeship, Apprenti helps employers meet evolving workforce needs and trains future tech workers with an emphasis on underrepresented groups including women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities. Apprenti’s programs are industry recognized and federally approved for employers with tech talent needs across the United States. For more information on how to apply, donate, or become a hiring partner, please visit www.ApprentiCareers.org.

FINN Partners for Apprenti

The post Apprenti Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week Highlighting Success of Amazon Technical Apprenticeship Program appeared first on WTIA.

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