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Where will tomorrow’s IT talent come from?

In today’s tight tech job market, companies large and small are finding creative ways to source and hire talent. Today, many employers are looking far beyond people with four-year college degrees for entry-level positions. In fact, in 2017, the majority of employers – 51% – required a college degree for entry-level jobs. In 2021, that number fell to 44%, according to a report by the Burning Glass Institute, an independent nonprofit research center. The report projects that 1.4 million jobs could be opened up to workers without a college degree over the next five years.

The New York Times recently reported on changes in corporate hiring practices and noted that many labor experts see the removal of college degree requirements as increasingly important to increase diversity and reduce inequalities. Experts cited by The Times further pointed to the benefits of expanding hiring practices to tap into overlooked talent pools in currently tight labor markets.

The Times article specifically singles out Accenture as a company that now requires college degrees in less than half of its job postings. The company’s approach to learning began as a form of corporate responsibility and quickly evolved into a growing aspect of the traditional hiring pipeline.

Accenture is dedicated to creating career paths for people from diverse backgrounds, including those without a four-year degree. In fact, since 2016, the company has sponsored over 1,200 apprentices in over 35 cities, including Los Angeles and Sacramento. In 2021 alone, Accenture recruited nearly 600 apprentices.

Apprentices, many of whom specialize in roles ranging from cybersecurity specialist to digital transformation analyst to artificial intelligence, “learn by earning,” which helps drive the concept of professionalism forward. And, after a year-long stint as apprentices, the majority of these enthusiastic, hard-working individuals remain with the company as full-time employees.

The California market

California Governor Gavin Newsom has said he wants the state to employ 500,000 apprentices over the next seven years. According to the Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS),

“Apprenticeship is a proven but underutilized workforce and education strategy that connects Californians to better jobs and higher wages, while meeting the talent needs of employers.” Additionally, the apprenticeships could transform “workers, students, and diverse regional communities across the state,” LINCS says.

Indeed, public and private sector organizations in California see apprenticeships as a practical and viable way to find people with the initiative, skills, and zeal to learn and earn while working. Apprenticeship offers both employees and employers the opportunity to fill gaps. For employers, it’s a chance to hire smart, motivated and talented people, many of whom have fewer opportunities to go to college. It also opens the pool to a wider range of diverse talent. For employees, it’s a chance to learn new skills while gaining experience to make them even more valuable in the job market.

Mark Noriega, managing director of Accenture in Sacramento, told the Sacramento Business Journal that the company’s learning program is designed to tap into untapped talent. The initiative is “both a strategy to achieve a more diverse workforce and … an effort to help with recovery from the pandemic,” he said. Noriega also told the Journal that the program is designed to “build a network,” adding that the apprenticeships represent “a great opportunity for businesses in Sacramento.”

Since 2019, Accenture has had 21 technology apprentices in Sacramento, including business analysts, developers, security analysts and general technology specialists. Many are now full-time Accenture employees, with some working in the public sector.

Accenture’s apprenticeship program has been particularly beneficial for veterans. For example, California native and US Navy veteran Martin Arias turned the skills he learned developing a retailer’s website into a career at Accenture. “There are quality workers who just need an opportunity to prove themselves and show their ability to learn,” says Arias. He adds, “I’m grateful for the apprenticeship program. It allowed me to make a mid-career transition.

Accenture management is raving about the nationwide apprenticeship program, especially how it has helped veterans discover careers with real growth potential. the

The company’s North America CEO, Jimmy Etheredge, said in a LinkedIn post, “I love how our program helps experienced people retrain for jobs that will be in high demand in the future, like the English teacher who found a career in IT and a former military combat medic who is reinventing himself as a specialist in cloud technologies.

The apprenticeship program shows no signs of slowing down. In a bid to fill 20% of Accenture’s entry-level positions in the U.S. through the apprenticeship initiative in 2022, the company has partnered with the Business Roundtable and the Chicago Apprentice Network to recruit more more potential workers nationwide.


Accenture’s work with state and local government agencies across California reflects our commitment to helping our clients achieve high performance. More than 4,500 Accenture employees live and work in California, providing a wide range of strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services, and are proud to help their clients make a difference in the lives of people they serve.

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