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INDIANAPOLIS — As employers nationwide look for ways to fix the talent pipeline, an Indianapolis organization is looking to our high school population to develop the next generation of employees.

In May, EmployIndy hosted a signing day for 26 Central Indiana high school sophomores for its Modern Apprenticeship Program. This program connected the students with 16 local employers for a two-three year paid apprenticeship.

Now, during National Apprenticeship Week, they are looking back at how the first six months of the apprenticeship program has helped both their employer partners and the apprentices.

Salematou Diaby is one of the pilot members of the Modern Apprenticeship Program. She is working with EmployIndy at WorkOne helping those who are struggling to find a job.

Diaby says being in the program has taught her a lot, including responsibility.

“You have to make sure you’re on time to work. You have to make sure you clock in on time. You have to make sure you’re able to get yourself to and from work,” Diaby said. “My supervisor is able to help me, but I have to get myself to work and put myself in the position to be the best that I can every day that I’m there for work.”

Diaby is currently training on how to be qualified in project management. She says having this experience is giving her an idea of what life will be like after she gets out of high school.

“We’re not going to be in high school forever, we’re going to have to actually get out into the real world workforce,” Diaby said.

Marie Mackintosh, chief strategy officer for EmployIndy, says programs like this will be essential for employers as they face continuing recruitment and retention issues.

“We see that there is a need in the Community to connect employers into their pipelines earlier and more often than what’s happening right now,” Mackintosh said.

Mackintosh said apprenticeship is a long-standing, well-established approach to train employees. This is something that has only been growing in the past decade.

Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows there has been a 70% growth in new apprenticeships since 2011. Even with a 12% decline in the number of new apprenticeships in 2020 due to COVID-19, they were the third highest ever numbers for the Registered Apprenticeship program.

Mackintosh says she expects this trend to grow as employers work to bring talent in earlier to make sure they have the skills they are looking for in the workplace.

“I think now industries like advanced manufacturing, information technology, even just business financial services because of some of the talent issues that they’re facing are looking to these types of models to see how they can bring in talent earlier but also help them to get on a path that is lifelong learning,” Mackintosh said.

For students like Diaby, they are able to gain skills they will have for a lifetime.

“I’m not just going there for my paycheck. I have to actually learn something because I’m getting credited towards it, so I have to learn different types of skills,” Diaby said. “Communication is really key and the fact that I have to speak up when we have meetings.”

Ascend Indiana and EmployIndy are continuing to partner closely to grow the program, increasing engaged schools, apprentices, and employer partners as they strategize for the 2022 cohort.

For more information about the program, visit EmployIndy’s website.