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SOURCING — Prioritize Effective Sourcing Partnerships

If you just post an apprenticeship opportunity online, it’s unlikely you’ll get a diverse set of applicants to apply. Instead, build genuine partnerships and relationships with groups and communities serving Black, Latinx/e, and Indigenous talent skilled via alternative routes than a bachelor’s degree. Below, we share a simple rubric for vetting partners, letting them vet your program, engaging their talent where they’re at, and tracking & sharing outcomes.

Check-list and tips for how to select and engage partners:

Overall Tips for Engaging Partners:

  • Lead with curiosity and enthusiasm
  • Glean information about the demographic makeup of the partner’s talent; if it’s aligned with your DEIB goals. Think about diversity beyond gender inclusion, and actively consider racially underrepresented groups in tech such as Black, Latinx/e, and Indigenous talent skilled via alternative routes than a bachelor’s degree.
  • Understand the size of the organization’s talent pool and their level of readiness for your program
  • Understand whether the partner is a trusted service provider in the community and among talent
  • Treat them with value and reciprocity in joint-collaboration: they’re a potential partner, not a transactional source of talent
  • Thank them for their work often and mutually recognize joint successes

Questions to ask in your sourcing partner conversations:

About the Organization

  • What is the mission of the organization?
  • How long has it been running?
  • Where is the org located?
  • Who does the organization aim to serve?
  • How much does the program cost?
  • If at cost, are any scholarships or financing options available?
  • Is the program for-profit or not-for-profit? How is the organization funded?

Talent Demographics

  • Where is their talent based?
  • What is the demographic makeup of their participants? (race, gender, education background)

Program Details

  • What technical and professional skills does their talent graduate with?
  • What programming languages do they teach?
  • What is the timeline and cadence for the program cycle?

Talent Outcomes & Reach

  • How many graduate from the program annually?
  • What percent of graduates are placed in jobs?
  • What is their reach to current or alumni job seekers?

Reputation & Community Trust

  • Ask graduates of the program or involved community members about their experience
  • Do a quick online search for any review or press about the organization
  • Glean the values of their leadership and staff, and if they themselves come from diverse backgrounds or are from the communities they serve

Expect your sourcing partners to also vet you. Here are examples of questions to prepare for:

  • When was your program created?
  • Why was it created and by whom?
  • Who are you targeting for this program?
  • How is it structured?
  • How big is the expected cohort? How big was the previous cohort?
  • What are the racial, educational, and gender demographics of previous cohorts?
  • What is the pay rate?
  • Are any benefits covered?
  • What is the employment status of the apprentices?
  • What are the conversion goals of the program?
  • How many apprentices converted at your company or elsewhere in the last cohort?
  • What are the major successes and challenges the program has had supporting racially or educationally diverse talent?
  • Can I talk to 1–2 apprentices coming from similar backgrounds as our talent to hear about their experience?

Once you select sourcing partner(s), ensure the partnership is reciprocal instead of transactional. Set up clear communication and information sharing at key milestones.

  • Work with a small handful of well-cultivated partners at first and expand the number as your program grows over time either locally or nationally.
  • Share the call for applications / program description with sufficient advance notice (ask how much time they need!)
  • Share an application guide to transparently highlight how applicants will be evaluated (see what to include in an application guide in the Assessment section of the toolkit)
  • Create a clear area in the application for talent to indicate affiliation with your partner, such as a dropdown box
  • Make sure you look at and evaluate all applications linked to your partner
  • Track and inform your partner if any of their talent have been selected for the program
  • Track and inform your partner of program outcomes: whether their talent has converted or not
  • Designate time to thank them, cross-share feedback on the process and the candidates (particularly to help candidates direct their own learning and development), and debrief on each phase of the partnership and what can be improved upon for future cycles
  • If mutually agreed, share success via joint-recognition in any impact reports, blogs, events, storytelling opportunities

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Tool and best practices co-designed with champion in tech Beti Gathegi.

Have questions or comments about the Equitable Tech Apprenticeship Toolkit? Send us a note.