A young black man opens up a laptop. That is the preview image for a YouTube video about software developer apprenticeships through Detroit at Work. This must mean that the young black man is one of the success stories of the apprenticeship program, right?
This is a big deal, because software developer is a good-paying profession, with a median salary of $120K according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Imagine if we could get more Detroit residents in jobs that pay like that...
But for someone to get their first job in this field (a job that pays $40K or $50K) is excruciatingly difficult. Job postings for junior developer positions frequently demand a minimum of five years’ professional experience in the field.
Surely such onerous requirements are being waived for some applicants. There is a serious shortage of people for this job, and employers are willing to hire people with as little as three or four months’ professional experience even if they’re not of the “right” race.
Then this becomes a chicken and egg paradox: you need experience to get the first job, and you need a first job to get the experience. Frustrated yet?
Maybe the Detroit New Apprentice program through Detroit at Work is the solution to this problem:
This YouTube video is also on the Detroit New Apprentice website, which supposedly has vital information on this program, like what the requirements are and how to apply. Well, as of last week, this is the full extent of the pertinent information available on the website:
Detroit’s tech and tech-enabled apprenticeship network for private sector employers, powered by Detroit’s undervalued, skills-based “opportunity workforce” talent pool.
A Connect 313 initiative, brought to you by founding members Accenture and Rocket Mortgage, supported by Detroit@Work and Microsoft.
Okay, that’s nice. What requirements would I have to meet to be considered a viable candidate for this program? How would I apply?
The website has a “hamburger” menu icon in the upper right corner. As of last week, that brings up an empty menu. If you check it today, you will probably see the same thing.
Maybe the page source has some information, like how the Mozilla website does? (Do note that the Mozilla website does also have a careers link where you would expect to find it normally). There is a lot of information to be gleaned from the Detroit New Apprentice website source. Like for example, that it’s a WordPress site that uses Google Fonts.
At this point it’s blazingly obvious that the information I want about Detroit New Apprentice is not meant to be anywhere I can actually get at it.
Maybe I have to call Detroit at Work, or go to one of their offices in person. Except that I have spent hours on the phone with them, and before the pandemic hours at their office on Michigan Avenue, and I have absolutely nothing to show for it. I often got the sense that my counselor was already checked out, on his or her way to a better job somewhere else.
The only reason I even found out about Detroit New Apprentice was because of a post on a Slack channel I’m on. There’s a guy at this one company who wants to know how his company can participate, he’s having trouble getting straight answers, too.
From watching the Detroit New Apprentice video, it’s clear that this program has been around long enough for one white guy (who’s probably as nice a guy as any) to go from apprentice to senior software developer.
I’ve talked to Detroit City Council, Detroit at Work and Connect 313, no one told me about Detroit New Apprentice. This program is supposed to be a mystery to people like me. It’s clear that I am not the target audience for the YouTube video.
Another guy on the Slack channel somehow knows that the program only takes two applicants a year. I don’t know how he knows this, but I trust him, and it certainly makes sense that he would know a lot more about this program than I would.
It also makes sense that the program only takes two applicants a year. That way, they can say that the program is “competitive.”
And somehow the two white applicants are the ones who are going to be considered good enough for this “competitive” program. If the rejected applicants are blacks and Latinos, well, then that’s just an amazing coincidence.