By Monty Green, Manager, Elevance Health IT Apprenticeship Program

Over the course of 26 years, my career has spanned across the fields of professional career training, workforce development, and technical industry consulting. Through my experience designing and implementing workforce solutions for high-risk, underserved young adults, I have witnessed the transformative power that job training initiatives can provide for youth aging out of the child welfare system. 

As they transition into adulthood, youth with a history in foster care face unique challenges, including a lack of stable support networks and limited access to opportunities. To ensure their success as adults, it is imperative that we prioritize job training programs, particularly in the field of Information Technology (IT), to equip these young individuals with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving workforce at the same time building their life skills to live their best lives.

About the Elevance Health IT Apprenticeship Program

In my current role, I serve as the manager of the Elevance Health Department of Labor IT Apprenticeship Program based in Atlanta, Georgia. Elevance Health is the parent company of Amerigroup Georgia, a Medicaid Care Management Organization since 2006. In collaboration with community partners and other leaders with extensive knowledge and expertise we identified a growing need we had that we needed assistance to solve a workforce capacity in IT but at the same time a need for our youth that we support each day in the Georgia Families 360 program.   Launched in 2018, the Elevance Health IT Apprenticeship program offers an IT career pathway for youth with a history in foster care and other underserved youth communities into the field of IT. Through the program, apprentices receive on-the-job training within Elevance Health’s enterprise IT departments, professional career development, mentoring, technical certification training, and formal college classroom learning. After the successful program launch in 2018, we added a second apprenticeship cohort in 2019 and a third group of apprentices in 2022. 

This program can be up to five-years and is a paid, competency-based technical training program that provides professional development support for each apprentice while providing a direct career pipeline into the Elevance Health IT workforce. The program provides comprehensive resources that support each apprentice while attending an Elevance Health-tailored college curriculum and hands-on learning that leads to a degree credential in computer science or related area. While obtaining training and work experience, Elevance Health Apprentices are guided and connected as needed to wraparound support services to address their social needs including, but not limited to, transportation, housing and childcare services. 

Why Job Training is so Important for Youth Transitioning out of Foster Care

When youth in foster care age out of the system, they often find themselves without the safety net that others may take for granted such as navigating the complexities of adulthood, finding employment, and securing stable housing. Without the necessary skills and support to succeed, many face a higher risk of unemployment, homelessness, and involvement in the criminal justice system. By investing in job training programs specifically tailored to their needs, we can provide these young adults the tools to break this cycle and forge a path towards a brighter future.

The IT industry is a rapidly growing sector with an ever-increasing demand for skilled professionals. When we equip these young adults with IT skills, we open doors to rewarding and stable careers, offering our apprentices not just a job, but a lifelong opportunity for growth and success.

Through IT skills training, these youth can: 

·       Gain practical skills that are highly sought after in today’s digital economy 

·       Feel confident and empowered to overcome adversity

·       Develop a sense of achievement and self-worth as these youth witness their own progress and realize their potential to excel in a field that values their unique abilities

·       Advance their problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity skills, which are transferable skills applicable to all facets of life and work.

Comprehensive support systems are crucial to ensure the success of young adults in these programs, which is why mentoring, counseling, and wraparound services are integral parts of the Elevance Health IT Apprenticeship Program. By providing emotional support, guidance, and assistance with the challenges our apprentices face, we are creating a nurturing environment that empowers them to succeed. We also collaborate with foster care agencies, community organizations, and local businesses to build a strong network of support and ensure that the program addresses the specific needs of the youth we serve. 

It is our collective moral obligation to ensure that youth in foster care are not left behind as they transition into adulthood. By providing them with job training, supports and IT skills, we can break down barriers, promote equity, and help unlock their full potential.