New Mexico Information Technology Apprenticeship Program Expanding into Cyber Security and Medical Coding

In New Mexico and nationwide, IT jobs are growing while workers continue to lack the skills needed to meet the demand. We’re helping to better meet the demand through the apprenticeship program. And these are high-paying jobs that start at around $50,000

Sue Buffington, Director of NMITAP

CNM is currently seeking employers who could be well-served by apprentices in these two fields. The college has dozens of apprentice candidates lined up and ready to support the cyber security and medical coding needs of local employers.  Due to a recent change to the program, employers who want to participate in NMITAP can now review résumés for apprenticeship applicants and decide who they would like to interview. 

NMITAP, which is the first registered apprenticeship program for IT in New Mexico, is funded by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. CNM was one of 46 institutions nationwide to receive part of the Labor Department’s $175 million American Apprenticeship Grants Initiative in 2016. Besides on-the-job training, apprentices also take CNM classes funded through the grant, as well as receive industry certifications such as Network + and Security +. The goal for CNM’s grant is to train 300 apprentices over a five-year period in order to bolster the IT workforce in New Mexico. 

“In New Mexico and nationwide, IT jobs are growing while workers continue to lack the skills needed to meet the demand,” said Sue Buffington, director of NMITAP. “We’re helping to better meet the demand through the apprenticeship program. And these are high-paying jobs that start at around $50,000.” 

Apprentices can be first-time college students, current students, unemployed or current workers seeking skills and development. 

“This gave us the opportunity to take one of our current analysts and put him through the NMITAP apprenticeship program to have him become a full-fledged network engineer, which we were facing a shortage of,” said Gary Florez, Director of Engineering at Abba Technologies. “With NMITAP’s help, we have been able to continue his education with on-the-job training while he continues his education at CNM.” 

CNM, through the grant, provides funds to employers of apprentices to offset training costs. The grant also pays for industry certifications and related technical classes for the apprentices. CNM has a team that handles all of the administrative work for the employers associated with participating in the apprenticeship program. Each apprentice is assigned a “Career Coach” and an “Academic Coach” to support their success. Currently, there’s an 84 percent retention rate for the apprentices and many employers have already indicated that they plan to hire the apprentices full-time when their apprenticeships are complete. The first cohort of apprentices will graduate from the program in February. 

UnityBPO has hired several apprentices from the program. 

“Developing strong talent within the company isn’t something we can do on our own,” said Bridget Harrington, spokeswomen with UnityBPO.  “We have to invest in our workforce through training and development, which is how NMITAP helps us. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. We benefit from skilled talent. Apprentices who are hired receive benefits and on-the-job training as part of the program while they take courses.” 

The success of NMITAP served as the inspiration for the CHANCE in Tech Act bill that was recently introduced by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (NM) and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (CO) to address the national shortage of information technology professionals. 

NMITAP manages apprenticeships in the following fields: 

  • IT Development – Become a computer programmer, software or web developer. 
  • IT Security – Become an information security analyst. 
  • IT Systems – Become a computer systems analyst, database administrator, network and computer systems administrator or computer network architect. 
  • IT User Support – Become a computer user support specialist. 
  • IT Health – Become a medical records and health technician. 

More than a dozen local employers have signed on to take apprentices, including Hewlett Packard, Presbyterian Medical Services, BlackBox Network Services, Ernest Health, Ardham Technologies, UnityBPO, Abba Technologies, The Kemtah Group, CNM and the City of Albuquerque.  

For more information on how to become involved, visit the NMITAP website. 

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