Businesses - Lehi Stock Photo: 02

Businesses currently operating and under construction stand Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Wednesday morning, Silicon Slopes launched a brand-new apprenticeship program called Silicon Slopes Apprenti.

The program, which comes from an organization based in Seattle, Washington, has come to Utah with the intent to “ease the talent shortage in tech,” according to a press release about the Wednesday launch.

“The program is working to connect industry, education and individuals,” Ben Luks-Morgan, director of programs Silicon Slopes Apprenti, said. “Anyone has the ability to apply.”

That anyone can apply is Luks-Morgan’s main emphasis. If individuals are 18 or older, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and can legally work in the U.S., they can apply to participate in the program. The first step of the application is an assessment test, which is free to take and available online at https://www.siliconslopesapprenti.com/.

After the assessment, individuals who showed an aptitude will be selected to participate in roughly three months of “education,” before beginning on-the-job training with a local company. Luks-Morgan said the program will work with companies to determine their needs, which will then determine what apprentices learn and where they are placed. The program, Luks-Morgan said, will work with community colleges, universities and possibly other programs to provide “full-time, bootcamp-style” education prior to the on-the-job training.

It’s important to note that the apprenticeship program is not meant to replace traditional education route, Luks-Morgan said. Rather, it’s to “provide an opportunity that doesn’t exist, not to replace one,” especially for people who may not have access to traditional higher education routes.

Funding for the education part of the program comes in part from the Department of Workforce Services and Talent Ready Utah. Participating companies may also provide education funding, as well as grants the program applies for. Once apprentices have completed the free education aspect, they then begin their on-the-job training, which is paid and lasts about a year.

Participating companies are under no obligation to hire apprentices on full time after the year mark, Luks-Morgan said, but so far the program, which is in place in several different countries all over the country, has had roughly 80% retention for its apprentices.

Once the program is complete, apprentices will also be able to receive an official certificate to prove their credibility in their field. Luks-Morgan said they hope to have the first apprentices begin on-the-job training as early as November of this year.

Wednesday’s launch event saw an outpouring of community support, Luks-Morgan said. He’s lived in the area for around six years, and said the launch was a demonstration of one of the best things about the state.

“One of the incredible things about Utah is how much the people are deeply invested in what happens here.”

The program aims to create “homegrown talent” from people already in the state, but is also open to people willing to move or planning to move to the state. The current “hub” for apprenticeships will be along the Wasatch Front, Luks-Morgan said, but the program has plans to build out to other Utah locations.

“This has been years in the making,” he said.