Unlocking IT Workforce Potential: Introducing AIM – West Virginia’s Solution to the Skills Gap

Attention employers! Do you have an IT- workforce shortage? The West Virginia Community and Technical College System has your answer, AIM!

What is AIM?

The Community and Technical College System of West Virginia’s (WVCTCS), Apprenticeships in Motion (AIM) program, is made possible by a nearly $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, prepares students and incumbent workers for middle- to high-skilled information technology (IT) occupations that are in increasingly high demand across the Mountain State. AIM partners with businesses and colleges to provide an “earn as you learn” experience for students and current employees. Through these connections, companies and organizations tap into a trusted talent pool, reduce the cost of on-boarding, cultivate dedicated employees, and address their present skills gap.

The AIM grant has worked with 200+ businesses to train over 850 IT professionals that include current employees and college students. AIM’s goal is to train a total of 1600 people so that they can enter or move into a middle- to high-level IT job. In addition to traditional IT training, AIM also provides training for Medical Records/Health Information Technicians and Architectural/Civil Drafters. The end date of the grant is July 14, 2024, so time is limited to take advantage of this IT workforce solution.

What is an apprenticeship?

A paid work-based learning experience that offers on-the-job training in a safe work environment, supervision and mentoring, classroom instruction, and an industry-recognized, portable credential that adds value and opportunity to an individual’s career. The employer provides the on-the-job training, and the community/technical college will provide the classroom instruction that leads to an IT credential. Courses are available in various forms of instruction, from traditional or face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses. WV community and technical colleges can also create customized training related to your specific IT credential needs. Contact your local WV community and technical college for more details (see contact list below).

“Hiring IT professionals with cybersecurity skills is very difficult, especially in West Virginia. The AIM program allowed us to ‘grow our own.” – Norman Gundersen, Vice President / WV Division GM, Global Science &Technology, Inc.

“The AIM program encouraged my current company to take a chance on a much older and less experienced candidate. As a result, I gained the opportunity to prove myself and test my skills in a real work environment, which lead to a promotion within 6 months.” – Lindsey Clagg, Software Engineer

What are some of the benefits of the AIM program?

  • Employer may be eligible for up to 50% wage reimbursement for each apprentice
  • Courses and customized training provided by one of WV’s nine community and technical colleges
  • Funding available to cover up-skilling of current employees or for tuition and fees of a degree-seeking student
  • Businesses take control of growing their own talent by developing a workforce pipeline and secure a competitive advantage in attracting new hires
  • Apprenticeships give the business and student the opportunity to get to know each other, think of it as an on-the-job interview
  • Apprentices learn specific IT skills and gain experience that a company requires that helps the company thrive
  • For every $1 spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity, reduced waste, and greater front-line innovation (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • 94% of apprentices stay on with their apprenticeship employer (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Apprenticeships improve productivity, reduce turnover, and diversify an employer’s workforce (U.S. Department of Labor)

Who to contact?

About The Author

Dr. Travis Miller currently works for the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education as the Project Director for the Apprenticeship in Motion Grant. Previous he served as Assistant Dean of Business Aviation and Technology, Director of Advanced Technology Center/Workforce Education at Pierpont Community & Technical College. He also a faculty member at Fairmont State University and West Liberty University for a combined 22 years of teaching in WV higher education.

Dr. Miller received his Ed.D. from WVU in Curriculum and Instruction, specialization in Science Education. His dissertation is on Rural First-Generation STEM student persistence (Dissertation – Enabling and Threatening Factors Affecting Persistence. Rural, First Generation STEM). He also published an article on Face-to-face vs. virtual laboratory activities (National Science Teacher Association).

He resides in Wellsburg, WV (Brooke County) and enjoys hikes with his dog, Shadow. Travis also enjoys bowling darts and hunting and fishing.