KC Tech Council’s apprenticeship program launches with job growth hopes from Davids, Cleaver

January 27, 2021
In The News

A freshly launched partnership between KC Tech Council and Apprenti — designed to cultivate tech skills and offer first-hand experience for apprentices — is a solid fit for Kansas City’s talent needs, two members of the metro’s U.S. congressional delegation agreed.

“I truly believe that entrepreneurship is baked into the DNA of our region,” U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, told an online audience Tuesday. “I’m so glad that we have organizations like Apprenti recognizing that investing in the entrepreneurial spirit we have here is so important … I’m optimistic that this is going to be a big benefit not just for Kansans but for the employers in the third congressional district in the metro area.”

Davids, who represents Kansas’ third district, sits on the House Small Business Committee and previously founded an entrepreneur-focused podcast, “Starty Pants.”

“We all know that two of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry are a lack of talent, but also a lack of diversity. … With over 70 percent of our apprentices being women, veterans and/or people of color, Apprenti has a proven model for diversifying tech talent across the country,” said Erin Christensen, KC Tech Council’s program manager for Apprenti, on Tuesday during the organization’s online “Tapping into Talent” event.

Joining Davids with a pre-recorded video, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, said the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recession it caused mean Kansas City needs a strong tech workforce and innovative training programs more than ever.

“As the representative for Missouri’s fifth congressional district and as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I’m always on the lookout for new and promising developments that demonstrate economic progress for my district,” Cleaver said. “Apprenti certainly seems to fit that bill.”

Bringing the program to Kansas City feels like a “homecoming,” said Jennifer Carlson, co-founder of Apprenti and an Overland Park native.

By Tuesday, Apprenti had already gathered 160 applicants for Kansas City’s tech market, Christensen said. Employers are excited to engage the potential apprentices in areas ranging from cybersecurity to software development, according to event speakers from such organizations as BARR Advisory and CertTech.

“Some of [the applicants] are from Kansas and Missouri. But a good chunk of them — because we are just now doing our official launch — are from other markets [and] are interested in coming to Kansas City,” she noted. “Imagine the opportunity to not only cultivate local talent but also relocate talent to Kansas City.”