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A tech apprenticeship can mean observing an operating team from the sidelines from once a week to daily for months. It can also mean a mentorship program where the apprentice shadows a seasoned employee until they learn the lay of the land, the ropes and are able to fulfill minor assignments.

This week, national guideline standards have been established as foundational for a new national infrastructure to scale apprenticeships in tech occupations. This is a result of the partnership between the human resource consulting and organizational development company Maher & Maher and the nonprofit Computing Technology Industry Association, a trade association that issues professional certifications for the information technology industry.

Apprenticeships for key tech job roles now have guideline standards approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. Central to the implementation of CompTIA’s National Guideline Standards noted on its website is that “It’s critical that the tech talent pool better reflects the growing diversity of today’s workforce.”

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The efforts to create the standards is, according to the announcement, “a bold new effort to use Registered Apprenticeship Programs as a way to increase the number of skilled technology workers and expand career opportunities for diverse populations, including women, individuals with disabilities and people of color.”

Labor selected CompTIA and Maher & Maher to promote Registered Apprenticeship, described as a “proven workforce development model that enables employers to access and train larger talent pools of workers to fill high-demand tech positions across industry sectors.”

Honing in on three critical-to-tech entry-level job roles, CompTIA’s National Guideline Standards exist for tech support specialists, network support specialists and cybersecurity support technicians. These three job roles with others to follow form the basis for the CompTIA Apprenticeships for Tech framework.

“Apprenticeships are a proven method for building skills and preparing people for employment, but it’s a tool that has been under-utilized in the tech workforce,” said Amy Kardel, vice president for strategic workforce relationships at CompTIA, in the announcement. “We intend to demonstrate to employers in all industries that by investing in training through apprenticeships they can gain access to a diverse pool of candidates and create a predictable pipeline to meet their tech hiring needs.”

Despite the pandemic and throughout it tech roles stayed nearly always consistent, meaning the industry continued hiring, as other businesses shuttered and stalled. Employer demand for tech talent and career opportunities for individuals remain strong across much of the county. CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2021 report projects growth in net tech employment across 48 states this year, with 245,000 new jobs created in areas such as IT support, cybersecurity and other technology infrastructure-related positions.

In March employers across the country advertised job openings for more than 307,000 IT positions, CompTIA reported.

Maher has been recognized leader for building innovative and successful apprenticeship initiatives. CompTIA, which issues global vendor-neutral technical education and certifications in a range of technology skills, presented close to 2.8 million certifications to technology professionals. The partnership hopes to bring together the advantages of apprenticeship on a national scale to businesses in need of tech workers, while jumpstarting thousands of new careers and increasing access to tech occupations for underrepresented groups.