The nation’s largest nonprofit, competency-based university, Western Governors University (WGU), recently announced the first cohort to participate in the Southern Nevada Software Developer Registered Apprenticeship Program. The program is the first of its kind in Nevada that provides students with an ‘earn and learn’ approach at no cost.
The apprenticeship program was developed in collaboration with the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA), the College of Southern Nevada (CSN), Workforce Connections, and IONnovate, and is accredited with the Nevada State Apprenticeship Council.
“This program is a groundbreaking initiative that bridges the education-industry gap in Southern Nevada,” said Rick Benbow, WGU’s Regional Vice President for the West Region. “Students in this cohort will gain real-world experience and essential skills, empowering them to succeed in software development. This program addresses the region’s demand for skilled developers and contributes to Southern Nevada’s economic growth.”
The first person to enroll in the apprenticeship program is Patricia Ubina, a student in WGU’s online software development program. Patricia was paired with Concierge Software Design, a local boutique custom software development company, where she works daily with a senior software developer who also acts as her apprenticeship mentor.
“This apprenticeship allows me to get a lot of real-life and hands-on experience, and it shows me what it will really be like to work at a software development company,” said Ubina. “This program has opened the door for new developers who want to pursue a career in the tech industry.”
According to the 2022 Workforce Blueprint, a regional partnership led by the LVGEA, software developers are the most in-demand occupation in Southern Nevada. WGU’s Software Developer Apprenticeship directly addresses the gap between supply and demand.
“There is a misconception that Nevada lacks a technology workforce when the state is home to talented junior software developers,” said Joshua Leavitt, CEO and Founder of IONnovate, the apprenticeship program sponsor. “These gifted developers are often overlooked because they lack years of on-the-job experience and a bachelor’s degree. The apprenticeship program is designed to connect employers with that talent.”
The initial cohort of apprentices were recruited from a pool of students who have completed an Associate of Applied Science degree (or the equivalent) and will be enrolled as registered apprentices with participating employers, such as Concierge Software Design, while they complete a Bachelor of Science, Software Development degree at WGU at no cost.
WGU’s online competency-based model provides the flexibility to enable students to complete their degree and related certificates in only 18 to 24 months. To increase equity and inclusion, program partners focus on recruiting women and people of color into software developer positions.
“One of the most common things companies looking to move to the region ask us is ‘where will I get my employees?’” said Tina Quigley, President & Chief Executive Officer of LVGEA. “WGU’s apprenticeship program is critical to developing our community’s software development workforce pipeline and will train our local students for the technology jobs of tomorrow.”
The program is supported by the Accelerating Nevada Apprenticeships for All (ANAA) grant, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and managed by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation (GOWINN).
About WGEstablished in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves over 149,000 students nationwide and has more than 335,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 26 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families, and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at wgu.edu and wgu.edu/impact.
About Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance
The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA) is a public-private partnership dedicated to growing the economy of the Greater Vegas region through intentional business attraction, expansion, and connectivity. LVGEA has been designated as one of eight Regional Development Authorities (RDA) in Nevada by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) for 2022-2023. To learn more, visit lvgea.org.
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