Apprenticeship Program Brings Diverse Talent to Blue Cross IT

Amy Barczy

| 4 min read

Amy Barczy is a former brand journalist who authored content at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Prior to her time at Blue Cross from 2019-2024, she was a statewide news reporter for MLive.com. She has a decade of storytelling experience in local news media markets including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Ann Arbor and Port Huron.

As the need for skilled technology workers in the U.S. continues to grow, the pool of available talent is never enough to fill open roles. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continues to explore new ways and unique ways to add diverse talent to roles in its Information Technology department. One of the latest ways Blue Cross is connecting to new hires is through an apprenticeship program in partnership with Apprenti. 
The Apprenti program offers a unique path to filling IT jobs by training workers – who are either starting or changing careers – and securing them paid apprenticeships to help companies with digital skill talent shortages. This year, Blue Cross is hiring five apprentices through Apprenti, and exploring the possibility of how the program can support the IT workforce in the future.
“The Apprenti program offers workers a path to an IT career at Blue Cross that may have previously not existed,” said Debra Knapp, a director in Information Technology and Operations Finance and Organizational Operations at Blue Cross. “We’re excited to welcome these apprentices onto our teams, and to help them build their skills while building a diverse bench of new talent and experience for our department.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan apprentices Hong-Phuc Dang, Mikayla Clemons and Edgar Acuna pose for a photo. Not pictured are apprentices Deven Bereznoff and Doan Bui.

How the Apprenti program works

The Apprenti program is different from an internship. In an internship, positions often don’t have benefits and only last for several months before the intern often moves on to a different company.
In the Apprenti program, the goal is for companies to train and retain the apprentices they are working with. Apprentices are paid and receive a minimum of 12 weeks of training from Apprenti before they move to on-the-job training with the company that intends to hire them.
Because of the pay and benefits offered to apprentices while they are learning their skills, the Apprenti program often attracts a wider pool of interested workers who are often mid-career and looking to make a change. The opportunity of an apprenticeship – training, full pay and benefits – makes a career switch more attractive and attainable for more workers.
The average age of an Apprenti apprentice is 33, and 80% of apprentices are women, veterans and people of color. The majority of apprentices also have college degrees or experience.

Apprentices join Blue Cross IT

At Blue Cross, apprentices have the pay and benefits of an entry-level IT employee; and once their apprenticeship is complete, they will be up for a raise. During their apprenticeship, they are matched with mentors in the IT department to ensure they can build connections within the team that they will ultimately work.
Mikayla Clemons is one of the apprentices at Blue Cross through the Apprenti program. Clemons said she was looking to change directions in her career after working as a software developer for Ford Motor company. She was looking for a career that used her technical background as well as her past experience in business and customer service. She found the Apprenti program to be the right opportunity to help make that possible to move into IT:
“I found the Apprenti program years ago when searching for apprenticeship opportunities to enter into the tech industry. Apprenticeships have always intrigued me and seemed like a great way to transition into a new career and learn the necessary skills needed to be successful in your new role,” Clemons said.
As she joins the IT team at Blue Cross, Clemons said she’s looking forward to applying the Apprenti training to her new role.
“I am most excited for the on-the-job training and being a part of a great team here at Blue Cross,” Clemons said. “I am excited to be able to learn from my fellow team members and utilize the Apprenti training in real-life instances.”
The Apprenti program also helped Edgar Acuna, another apprentice at Blue Cross, change directions mid-career. Acuna’s interest in working in technology was sparked during his previous job as a crash safety engineer at Ford Motor Company. He saw other engineers writing tools and software to solve everyday problems – and he wanted to learn more. After doing some research online about the need for talent in the technology industry, Acuna found the Apprenti program.
“I knew I wanted a career in IT, and I found Apprenti to be the perfect steppingstone into a new tech career,” Acuna said. “I’m excited to learn more about the technology industry and gain valuable skills that will give me a strong foundation for my career. I believe that this is the perfect opportunity to start my career in IT, and I know that the skills I attain will be transferable to any career path I choose to go in the future.”

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