With roughly three weeks left to meet its revised, state-mandated hiring quota, IBM has hired 30 apprentices to join its Baton Rouge facility as part of a company-wide apprenticeship program that launched here today.
The local apprentices—among 50 statewide—will count, according to IBM officials, toward the 225 full-time workers the company must hire by June 30 to satisfy its contractually obligated quota of 800 workers in Baton Rouge, a deadline extended in 2017 by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration.
Marking the latest in a series of partnerships among the state, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools and IBM, the apprenticeship program aims to equip students, veterans, mid-career professionals and others lacking the skills needed in the high-tech workforce.
After completing the 12- to 18-month program, apprentices earn an industry-recognized credential and a spot at the front of the line for a job at IBM, which has hired more than 90% of its apprentices.
“They’re quality, good-paying jobs, and they’re full-time employees,” says Charles Masters, IBM vice president for North America client innovation centers.
Officials say apprentice salaries are on par with those of other full-time workers and vary by job, declining to provide estimates. Unlike normal employees, apprentices receive on-the-job training to help them qualify for technology jobs available across the U.S.
While Masters declines to provide an updated employee count, he says IBM’s hiring trajectory is “trending in the right direction,” having seen record levels of growth in the past two quarters.
Despite Louisiana’s recent passage of the “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban and other policies that could deter the young, progressive employees tech firms generally aim to attract, Masters says recruitment efforts have remained strong, noting more than 100 people applied for the apprenticeship program and hiring events have drawn large crowds.
“These people—PTECH, apprentices, everyone we’re bringing in—we’re really looking for the long-term benefit for Louisiana,” he says.