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World Wide Technology Chooses North & South Tech for First High School Level Apprenticeship

September 1, 2022 -  “When we help students discover their purpose in life and their passion, it’s such a win,” said Margie Vandeven, Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, as she addressed the crowd gathered to celebrate 13 students committing to apprenticeships and full-time positions with World Wide Technology (WWT). In a signing ceremony at North Tech High School on August 31, WWT announced they were entering into a registered youth apprenticeship through the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) with both schools, the first high school-level apprenticeship for the $14.5 billion, minority-owned, global technology services provider.

Five students, one 2022 graduate and four current students, from North and South Tech in the Cisco Networking Academy program will begin their journey as configuration technician apprentices this school year. An additional nine 2022 graduates from our information technology programs accepted full-time employment with WWT. “This was a perfect fit,” said Ann Marr, WWT executive vice president of global human resources. “I’m thrilled to see the level of talent in these students.” Helping the next generation of technology talent through community partnerships has been a long-standing commitment for the company and creating a new pipeline for youth brought exciting possibilities. Fortunately, the partnership with North and South Tech is ticking a lot of boxes.

Missouri has been a forerunner in developing youth apprenticeships for the last several years and is nationally recognized for its commitment to developing more opportunities to connect youth to the world of work. “I’m very proud of North and South Tech,” said Dr. Oscar Carter, director of skilled technical sciences for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). “They are delivering this education in ways that ensure these kids are successful.”

Laura Quitana, vice president and general manager of Cisco Networking Academy, recognizes the value North and South Tech contribute to our regional workforce. “The partnership demonstrates the power of further collaboration between SSD, WWT, and Cisco Networking Academy. This apprenticeship program offers a skills-to-job pathway which gives students from diverse backgrounds the skills, employment opportunities, and career outlook they need to flourish in an increasingly digital economy," she said.

“We are so proud of these young people,” said Dr. Elizabeth Keenan, SSD superintendent. “SSD has been providing career and technical education programming for St. Louis County since 1967 and seeing our mission to support and empower all students realized through strong, effective community partnerships like this one is truly exciting.” SSD has been providing the Cisco program for 22 years, establishing a talent pipeline of highly qualified, certified, and career-ready graduates for employers like AT&T, Spectrum, and Google.

Noah McMullen, a 2021 graduate of South Tech’s program and Mehlville High School, was WWT’s first hire from the technical high schools and his instructor credits him with accelerating the partnership. “One of the recruiters had reached out to us and I had Noah send his resume. He has recently passed his CCNA (Cisco certified network associate) and they were super impressed with him,” said Michele Myers, his South Tech instructor. “I was so excited because we were coming out of all the school shutdown and online school, and we only really had one semester in-person his junior year and then his last semester his senior year. He studied so hard. He was a wonderful student and a hard worker. I am super proud of him!” 

As students participated in the signing event, they shared their thoughts on the work/apprenticeship experience so far (many of the new hires started over the summer and the apprentices began on July 18, 2022); comments not typically heard from 17-year olds regarding their work: “I love the culture.” “Everyone is so supportive and welcoming.” “The people are amazing.” “So many opportunities to learn and grow.” Future plans for this group were equally impressive, as many hoped to climb the ladder at WWT. Several expressed interest in becoming team leads and a few are now considering starting their own cyber security companies.

To be considered for the apprenticeship, students must have completed Cisco Networking Academy 1 and be recommended by their instructor. Their commitment requires them to work 20 hours per week after school as a configuration technical apprentice. Apprentices will cycle through three rotations during the year and be considered for full-time employment at its completion. 

“This new partnership with WWT is an incredible opportunity for our students and graduates,” said Kevin Andert, SSD’s executive director of career technical education (CTE) and college and career readiness. “This is possible because of our outstanding Cisco Networking Academy teachers, Jim Elkins and Michele Myers. They are preparing students in high school for careers that traditionally require some post-secondary education or training before they can be considered for an entry-level position,” Andert said.

Additional support for the youth apprenticeship comes from Safal Partners. "As a USDOL national industry intermediary expanding tech apprenticeship nationwide, Safal Partners is pleased to support SSD, WWT, the DESE, and Cisco Networking Academies in launching this high-quality registered youth apprenticeship program," said Katie Adams, senior director at Safal Partners.

To qualify as a registered apprenticeship program, businesses must include five core components. Programs must be employer-driven and provide structured, on-the-job learning; related technical instruction; rewards for skill gains; and a nationally recognized credential awarded upon completion. Missouri currently has registered 340 apprenticeship programs with USDOL.