Charter Expands Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program: An effort to help employ vets

(courtesy of

Charter says it is expanding its five-state Broadband Technician Apprenticeship Program to its entire 41-state footprint.

The program includes classroom—physical and digital—and on-the-job training with vets able to get GI bill benefits as well as a paycheck while training.

“Our commitment to an outstanding customer experience requires a devotion to craftsmanship among our employees,” said Charter president John Bickham. “The veterans who work at Charter are best-in-class when it comes to so many of the key attributes of craftsmanship: punctuality, attention to detail, resourcefulness and communication.”

Currently 1,000 Charter employees are enrolled in the program in five states, including Kansas City, Mo.

Missouri governor Eric Greitens, himself a former Navy SEAL, planned to be on hand for the expansion announcement in St. Louis Wednesday.

The ramped up training program also comes as Charter plans to hire 20,000 employees over four years as it repatriates Time Warner Cable call center jobs.

This Chicago startup is using apprenticeship to get low-income learners into tech

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Apprenticeship used to be the norm for skilled laborers, where experienced pros would help train the next generation.

However, forms of teaching that were more adept at training large numbers of workers eclipsed apprenticeship, and now the practice is largely left behind. But one Chicago marketer is working to bring it back to life, with benefits for both clients and apprentices.

The Alliance Labs, which aims to bring down the cost of marketing for smaller firms that don’t have standard marketing budgets, utilizes the help of apprentices to build custom websites for clients.

“There’s a ton of work out there in the digital media space and there’s a lot business for organizations that are not charging $200 an hour,” said founder Jon Schickedanz. “There’s a lot of business for people that have got $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 budget ranges.”

According to Schickedanz, those kind of jobs aren’t really attractive to agencies that have a lot of overhead or freelancers who don’t have the time for lower-priced contracts. At the same time, there are a lot of people trying to break into the industry with “a little knowledge about a lot of things,” Schickedanz said.

The apprenticeship model helps with both problems. Clients with lower budgets can get professional marketing and communications solutions. The Alliance Labs apprentices, called residents, get to work on professional projects alongside the pros, using them to answer questions, catch mistakes and act as mentors as they grow their career.

Residents help by putting together WordPress environments, editing pages and putting together wireframes, while the senior talent works on higher-level tasks like architecture and art direction behind websites.

chicago IT program

Schickedanz said he developed the idea after realizing the gaps that existed both in the training pipeline and the marketing communications industry. He had been working with i.c.stars, the project-based learning program for low-income adults. While the model provided valuable training, graduates still often needed help to land their first jobs in the industry.

The Alliance Labs helps to continue their training with on-the-job experience. About three times each year, around five residents are selected from i.c.stars. Those residents take two classes per week for four months, building up skills and taking on client work along the way.

While the residents are drawn from i.c.stars grads for now, Schickedanz says he may open it up to other potential apprentices in the future.

Graduates of the program have gone on to take on their own design work for clients independently, further study design in master’s programs and even opened their own business.

And with tech companies looking for applicants with diverse backgrounds and on-the-job experience, future grads should be well-positioned for the wealth of marketing positions available in Chicago.


St. Louis apprenticeship program for cyber security launches

(Courtesy of The St. Louis American/St. Louis Public Radio)

A new cybersecurity apprenticeship program is about to begin in the St. Louis region.

The Midwest Cyber Center is partnering with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, known as SLATE, to launch the 18-month apprenticeship.

The Cybersecurity Analyst Registered Apprenticeship is aimed at those who are at least 18, with a high school diploma or G.E.D. Midwest Cyber Center Executive Director Tony Bryan said they wanted to attract those with little experience into the field.

 “We’re really trying to find a much broader perspective of how do we get folks that are entry-level with very little experience in this space a pathway into it,” Bryan said.

The Midwest Cyber Center was founded in 2015 to address a shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Bryan said there are more than 200,000 such jobs will go unfilled in the U.S. this year.


The program will pair apprentices with businesses for 32 hours a week at $15 per hour and up to $24 an hour by the end of their time. SLATE has grants available that could offset the costs for businesses.

SLATE Executive Director Michael Holmes says it’s great for the apprentices because they’ll get on-the-job experience, as well as certification. But he said employers will also benefit.

“It gives them the opportunity to look before they hire,” he said.

SLATE will begin taking applications May 1st.