Apprentice program focuses on booming IT and cyber fields

04/18/2017| Emily Witty

Apprentice program focuses on booming IT and cyber fields

04/18/2017 | Emily Witty

TranZed Apprenticeship Services in Baltimore County is not only redefining the word "apprentice," but also the options high school and college grads have to get into Maryland's workforce.

As the state's first registered apprenticeship program, TranZed has combined on-the-job training with relevant classroom time in hot fields such as IT, cybersecurity, and digital media. According to TranZed Director Kimberly H. Neal, the program is tailor-made for every participant.

"From day one, our apprentices are full-time employees," Neal said. "They will receive 144 hours of customized classroom instruction built with input from their employer so that it is directly relevant to the job they are hired to perform. Each apprentice also has a mentor that they meet with regularly and who observes them in the workplace to ensure they're thriving in their position."

Anyone 18 and older can become a TranZed apprentice regardless of whether they have a college degree or not. The company has found the program suits both people not interested in going to a traditional four-year college and those looking to make a career change or struggling to get their foot in the door at a company.

The result is a mutual investment between employer and apprentice that fosters loyalty. The business benefits by increased retention, reduced internal investment, and by gaining a motivated employee. The apprentice benefits by receiving a relevant education without debt and a lucrative career path with a company that has groomed them as a key team member.

"Our first apprentice was 51 years old," said Neal. "The average age of our participants is 24 years old and many have college degrees but have struggled to get that first job. Often, in the IT sector, material learned in a four-year college program is stale by graduation. Our one-year program ensures relevancy."

The program, which kicked off during National Apprenticeship Week in November of last year, has been championed by Governor Larry Hogan; Kelly M. Schultz, Secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation and Mike Gill, Secretary of the Department of Commerce.

This month, TranZed was awarded a pair of grants from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to broaden their apprenticeship offerings and provide more assistance with interview skills and other practical job training.

"Apprenticeship programs don't have to solely focus on skilled labor to still provide valuable on- the-job training that you can't replicate in a college setting," said Secretary Gill. "TranZed is producing a skilled workforce for the State of Maryland that will be well-versed in the latest developments in the cyber and IT fields."

Maryland is the leading employer of electronics engineers, software developers and information security analysts and was ranked number one in STEM job concentration by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's States Innovate 2015 study.

TranZed hopes to increase participation and increase their locations in Maryland to serve even more apprentices in a wider range of work fields. Currently, the program has 67 apprentices in the workforce and their first participants will graduate at the end of this year.

"There is no barrier to the amount of apprenticeships we can offer because of the flexibility of our classes," Neal said. "I'm extremely enthusiastic with how TranZed has performed and where it is going in the future."

For more information about becoming an apprentice, teaching classes as an adjunct professor, or participating as an employer, visit

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