National Information Technology Apprenticeship System

Apprenticeship in IT

Apprenticeship has long been established as an effective methodology for training and developing employees in the “construction trades” such as plumbing, electrical, sheet metal, etc.  Recently the apprenticeship concept has been introduced to the IT industry.  Through two consecutive grants from the DOL, CompTIA performed the research and development necessary to create a 21st century apprenticeship system that ultimately became NITAS.

According to the June 2003 Report to Congress titled “Education and Training for the Information Workforce” employers seek workers who possess a specific combination of technical skills and experience, often coupled with a college degree, personal skills, and business or industry knowledge.  Therefore, the IT professional needs to be a well-rounded employee with technical knowledge and skills along with business and communication skills.  The National IT Apprenticeship System (NITAS) is a ready-made apprenticeship system to help produce well-rounded, highly productive workers in the shortest possible period of time.

In addition to being a training strategy, apprenticeship is a value creation strategy for employers.  Apprenticeship operates on a pay for performance basis. Employers can hire workers that are partially trained and pay those workers commensurately.  Then, using the apprenticeship principles and the NITAS tools, the workers become productive quickly allowing the employer to secure high value throughout the apprenticeship period.



National Information Technology Apprenticeship System (NITAS):

The NITAS System is a nationwide IT workforce development program for the   U. S. Information Technology Industry.  The NITAS program provides U.S. IT employers with the ability to secure competitive advantage through increasing the productivity of its IT workforce in the shortest possible period of time.  The program provides employers with the tools and infrastructure to ensure that:

⦁    New workers entering the organization become productive quickly with minimal start-up time and with minimal rework during the training period

⦁    Existing workers learn new jobs, roles and skills as quickly as possible

⦁    Existing workers adapt to new roles more quickly and leverage those opportunities to secure competitive advantage for the organization

⦁    IT workers understand and appreciate the business dimension of their work and are able to effectively integrate IT as a strategic business driver

⦁    U.S. IT employers control their IT costs by operating under a “pay for performance” wage structure which is a signature component of apprenticeship

⦁    U.S. IT workers are competitive at all wage-proficiency points in the IT labor market


Under NITAS

⦁    IT employers register their organizations and conduct their programs by following the NITAS/DOL practices and disciplines that are built into the system. 
⦁    The employers register using CompTIA’s web-enabled, on-line infrastructure.
⦁    The employers then use the infrastructure to ensure that the training delivered to employees contains the ILT, OJL, skill validation and performance measurement components required by the system. 
⦁    During the training period employers use the NITAS reporting capability to review the progress made by their workers in achieving the targeted competencies and worker productivity as well as achievements in improving business performance.
⦁    NITAS provides the standards, the tracking tools and the infrastructure to facilitate and monitor this process for employers.
⦁    An IT worker can directly participate in NITAS by registering in the program as an IT apprentice once his/her employer becomes a registered NITAS sponsor.  
⦁    Once the worker becomes registered, NITAS enables the worker to compile and maintain a formal record of the worker’s learning and competency attainment including ILT and OJL completed, skills validated, IT certifications achieved and apprenticeship concentrations completed.
⦁    This record or “transcript” will follow the worker throughout his/her career and can be made available to employers to demonstrate skill and competency attainment.
⦁    NITAS also provides OJL and ILT information and competency tracking resources to assist them in developing their IT careers.


The NITAS Framework

IT employers and workers can participate in four distinct but connected NITAS programs.  Two of these programs, IT Generalist and IT Specializations, are apprenticeships targeted for new workers entering the industry or existing workers who need to become skilled in new areas of IT.  The two remaining programs are post apprenticeship programs designed to raise the skill levels of existing IT journey workers.

The IT Generalist apprenticeship is suited for entry-level IT workers who require competency across a breadth of IT concentrations.  The IT Specializations apprenticeship is suited for either entry level or incumbent workers requiring depth in specific IT concentrations. The specializations concentration is very well suited to existing workers who need to become competent in new areas of IT. Database Services is one such concentration within the Specialist apprenticeship program.  Generally, we assume that a worker entering the DS concentration has previous experience and technical training in IT, e.g. general knowledge of operating systems, desktop operations, and platforms or infrastructure.  This knowledge may be gained through the IT Generalist program or through entry level work experience.

The IT Specializations apprenticeship contains a “lattice” of IT occupational categories and specializations that enable the IT worker to take on progressively advanced knowledge and skills and to become credentialed in a variety of IT skill areas (i.e. concentrations) depending upon the needs of the worker’s employer as well the worker’s own career aspirations.  The criteria required for the worker to receive a NITAS credential at each level include:

⦁    Completion of a specified amount of ILT or CBT
⦁    Completion of a specified amount of experience and participation in OJL activities which includes a coaching component from an experienced journeyworker
⦁    Demonstration of a specific number of skills/competencies relevant to the IT concentration
⦁    Attainment of relevant industry certifications
⦁    A unique aspect of NITAS is the linkage to national skill standards and job qualifications that are bench-marked across the IT industry and with the U.S. DOL.
⦁    As the primary IT certification provider organization in the industry, CompTIA uses its industry-wide committee structure to obtain input from industry, the government and other associations to create, maintain and update these skill standards.


Development and maintenance of the NITAS concentrations is an ongoing activity.  Thus far, NITAS has codified the IT Generalist as well as the most common IT functional areas.  The NITAS apprenticeships distill the essential core skills required for workers to be successful on their jobs.  Workers who participate in the NITAS program receive training in and demonstrate mastery of the core skills in the IT Generalist apprenticeship or in any specialized skills concentrations that are required by their employers.  This approach provides standardization across the IT labor market while at the same time allowing companies the flexibility to tailor their training to meet their own special requirements.


NITAS has created the skill standards, training standards and job qualifications for key IT specializations.  These technical and managerial concentrations include: Help Desk, Network Infrastructure and Devices, Database Services, Application Development, Information Assurance and Security.  The reader can remain aware of new NITAS offerings by visiting the NITAS website.

As the participating worker obtains experience, skills, knowledge and credentials in one or more of these specialized concentration areas, the worker’s achievements are captured in a career transcript, which is accessible through the NITAS web-enabled database.



Required Roles in NITAS


Under NITAS, IT employers (sponsors) register their organizations and their IT workers on line Workers can be either entry-level employees or seasoned individuals who are seeking to learn a new IT skill.  Following registration, the employees (apprentices) begin the apprenticeship period. During the apprenticeship period workers receive classroom instruction and structured on-the-job learning while they continue executing their normal work responsibilities.  The workers rapidly raise their productivity by demonstrating and practicing their learning under the guidance of a coach and in collaboration with their peers.  The NITAS tracking and reporting database enables the workers to record and measure their achievement and the employer to drive workforce productivity gains and to meet cost targets.    

The NITAS web enabled database also contains a career transcript for each worker, a checklist of industry benchmarked competencies called (Qual Cards) for each chosen concentration and the training criteria required for becoming credentialed. 

The reader should review the appendix for a description of the NITAS competency hierarchy that shows the relationship between competencies and qual cards.

In addition to qual card sign-offs, criteria includes hours of experience, hours of on-the-job learning, hours of classroom instruction (ILT or CBT), certifications and degrees---all of which are tracked in the web-enabled system.  The NITAS report writer provides metrics on key performance indicators that enable the employer to track the worker’s progress and to drive value from the apprenticeship system.

To ensure a level of quality control and compliance to nationally recognized training standards provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, NITAS requires that each sponsor work with a registered NITAS consultant to implement the apprenticeship.  The consultant is a process expert and can be either a trained person internal to the sponsor company or an external provider. The consultant may or may not also provide training and/or coaching services to the sponsor company.  To become qualified each consultant must go through two days of training available through CompTIA and demonstrate competency in the field.

The NITAS web-enabled system also facilitates the selection, scheduling and tracking of delivered classroom instruction or (CBT) that supports the apprenticeship process. Content provider organizations can map their course content to competencies within NITAS concentrations and pre-load this mapping into the system allowing easier course selection and administration of the apprenticeship within a sponsor organization.

Apprentice--An individual employed by a NITAS sponsor organization and who is registered with NITAS for a specific apprenticeship track.


Apprentice will receive:

On-the-job learning under the guidance of experienced and qualified personnel

Occupation-specific education/technical instruction

Training and Certifications that meet industry-endorsed IT Skill Standards

A web-based system that will record and track your experience, knowledge and skill sets in IT career concentrations

NITAS Sponsor - An employer organization that has registered with NITAS for implementation of apprenticeship within the organization. 

An organization registers by completing an online registration form and paying an annual fee based upon size of the organization and number of apprentices in the system. 

By registering with NITAS, the organization may also simultaneously register with the DOL, which is the official Apprenticeship Quality Compliance body for apprenticeship programs in the United States. 

NITAS and DOL will jointly recognize the apprentices who complete apprenticeship by issuing a certificate upon completion. 

When an employer becomes a NITAS sponsor, an iteration of the system will be made available to the employer as “sponsor.nitas.us”. 

This iteration is where all apprentice records, tracking of apprentices, and reporting of apprentices occurs. 

Coach-- An experienced individual employed or contracted by a NITAS Sponsor organization who is responsible for mentoring one or more apprentices on-the-job.  Either a Sponsor or a Sponsor designated Consultant can assign a Coach to an Apprentice.  A Coach’s role includes monitoring an apprentice’s progress, recording discussions, and conducting regular meetings with Apprentices to impart on-the-job learning (OJL).


NITAS Consultant -- A “process expert” who works within a NITAS partner organization to mentor and administrate apprentices in a sponsor organization.  NITAS consultants may be internal or external to the sponsor organization.  A NITAS consultant must receive authorized NITAS training on apprenticeship principles and the use of NITAS infrastructure.  Upon completion of training, a

NITAS consultant is capable of working with an employer to customize what additional training is necessary for the employer’s apprentices, can create custom qual cards for the employer, can act as a mentor to assure that qual cards are completed by the apprentice, and will assist the organization in managing and reporting progress of the apprentices.  Any fees associated with these services are negotiable between the employer and the consultant.

A NITAS consultant becomes fully qualified upon completion of the training and sign-offs on all consultant qual card items.

NITAS Content Provider -- An organization that offers training classes, material and resources that relate to one of the NITAS IT Concentrations.

A Content Provider could be an IT vendor who has certifications required for concentrations, who wishes to include their content to be offered to Employers and Apprentices, or publishers of content who wish their course-ware to be included in the NITAS programs.

All content descriptions must follow the submission guidelines of NITAS to be made available to NITAS Sponsors, Consultants and Apprentices.
Appendix A

Database Technician

Qual Cards – Database Services Level 1- 3 with suggested Exit Criteria

Note: company-specific competencies may be added by the sponsor organization

Optional Qual Card Items Level 1- 3 with suggested Exit Criteria

NITAS Competency hierarchy

Example:

WORK PROCESS SCHEDULE
DATABASE TECHNICIAN
O*NET-SOC CODE:  15-1061.00   RAPIDS CODE:  1130CB




METHOD OF DELIVERY:  In House Training, Private Industry and Classroom
SOURCE OF INSTRUCTION:  Local Community College, or Computer-Based Training


Total Hours  232 hours

WORK PROCESS SCHEDULE
DATABASE TECHNICIAN
O*NET-SOC CODE:  15-1061.00   RAPIDS CODE:  1130CB

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