The Advocate

Apprenti Louisiana, a program that trains people for technology jobs, graduated its first class of nine people Tuesday in cybersecurity with an eye toward other subjects in the future and expansions into Lafayette and New Orleans.

The graduates have been placed in cybersecurity analyst roles with several Baton Rouge businesses: five at TraceSecurity; two at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana; and one each at General Informatics, Eatel Business and Transformyx.

Genevieve Silverman, president and CEO of Research Park Corp., the parent company of NexusLA, which runs Apprenti, said the response from companies about the first class of graduates has been very positive.

Ryan Castle, the chief operations officer for TraceSecurity, said one of the apprentices wasn’t able to attend Tuesday’s graduation because he was out in the field. “To take a new person and have them delivering services for a client after a couple of months, that’s a great turnaround for us, to have them contributing that soon,” he said.

Apprenti was launched in Washington in 2015 and expanded into Louisiana and nine other states in October. The program is backed by the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Office of Apprenticeship, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and LANtec of Louisiana Corporate Training Center.

Anyone 18 years or older, with a high school diploma or the equivalent, who is eligible to work in the U.S., will be eligible for the Apprenti program. Salaries start at $35,000 for the 12- to 14-month apprenticeship and jump to $45,000 after the period is over.

About half the participants in the first class had earned a college degree and were looking to change careers, Silverman said. The other half had completed some college courses.

Plans are to graduate new classes from Apprenti on a quarterly basis. NexusLA is talking to local tech employers to determine what the industry needs to find out what program will be offered. The program can train people for about a dozen different tech jobs, including IT support, cloud operations, networking technician and system administrator. “We hope to get the next cohort launched in the fall,” Silverman said.

The goal is to expand Apprenti across Louisiana. Classes may be offered in Lafayette this fall, and the program may expand into New Orleans and Shreveport in the near future.