Dataseam expands apprenticeship program for Kentucky students

By Haley Cawthon – Reporter, Louisville Business First, December 23, 2021

For Full story in Louisville Business First.

A Louisville-based tech company is expanding its efforts to grow and improve IT workforce through newly-awarded funds from the federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

Dataseam received $1.5 million to further expand its U.S. Department of Labor-approved Registered Apprenticeship in Information Technology program for high school students in the Eastern Kentucky region.

Implemented with guidance from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and the Education and Workforce Cabinet, the two-year program includes paid IT jobs for students in participating school districts, hands-on coursework and on-the-job training and mentoring, according to a news release.

“We are excited to expand the IT Apprenticeship,” said Dataseam CEO Brian Gupton in the release. “Our project competed against 175 others from the 13 ARC states for total awards of $43.3 million. We are proud the Dataseam model for education and workforce development was assessed by subject matter experts at the federal level to be a good return on investment to fund these efforts.”

As many as 25 school districts in 20 Kentucky counties will have the opportunity to participate. The training will better prepare the students to further their education at the university level or seek out IT-based jobs in education, health care, local banking, and state and local government, the release continued. Approximately 45,000 students in the participating counties will have access to new technology as part of what the award will provide.

Dataseam’s award was one of six given in Kentucky totaling $5.5 million through the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative (POWER). The POWER Initiative targets federal resources to help communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. Efforts include cultivating economic diversity, enhancing job training and re-employment opportunities, creating jobs in existing or new industries and attracting new sources of investment.

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A goal of the apprenticeship program is to address Kentucky’s ongoing shortage of IT talent and the increased demands for such talent due to Covid-related remote work and instruction. Louisville Forward estimates that one-third of the workforce necessary to meet Louisville’s needs will come from Kentucky’s other 119 counties.

“These students will be the first of a pipeline created by Dataseam to meet not only the labor needs of Louisville but also the Commonwealth as a whole. Many of them could eventually be transplants to Louisville, coming here for college but staying for the opportunities our city provides,” said Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, chief of Louisville Forward, in the release.

Since 2005, Dataseam has improved classroom instruction and digital literacy in Kentucky schools and allowed increased employment for participants by providing training and industry-standard certification to participating Kentucky schools.

Dataseam operates the only Apple Authorized Training Center (AATC) in Kentucky. More than 8,000 educators have received training and school technology professionals now comprise the largest cohort of Apple OS engineers in the United States. 

“The DOL Apprenticeship is the next step in taking what we have learned as part of workforce development in the Dataseam ecosystem and provide those successes to our next generation. Engaging apprentice candidates in a skilled trade earlier in life provides the option to enter the IT workforce immediately upon graduation from high school or seek further instruction at the university level,” said Dataseam COO Gena McCubbins, in the release. 

The University of Louisville and Morehead State University identify and recruit students from its 48 Kentucky Dataseam-participating districts. Both institutions have funded separately the Dataseam Scholars program, providing four-year scholarships to students wishing to go into the STEM disciplines, including Information Technology. 

“We have had great success recruiting students from Dataseam schools from across the state to our campus,” said Jenny Sawyer, University of Louisville’s Executive Director of Admissions, in the release. “Students completing this apprenticeship should be better prepared for computer science, engineering and other related fields we offer as well as more competitive for scholarships and other opportunities.”