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Develop Carolina fellowship earns federal apprenticeship designation

Apprenticeship program prepares new graduates for software development careers

Develop Carolina, a software development fellowship spearheaded by the South Carolina Department of Commerce (S.C. Commerce), Build Carolina and Apprenticeship Carolina, today announced that the program is officially a registered apprenticeship with the United States Department of Labor.

Develop Carolina is a new, paid apprenticeship for software engineers and is open to all South Carolinians who have skills, training or education in a software development-related field. This program is the first group model registered apprenticeship for the tech industry in South Carolina.

“Our mission at S.C. Commerce is to create economic opportunities to increase choices for all South Carolinians. Ensuring that our state has the high-tech workforce in place to support industry is key to that success,” said Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III. “This new apprenticeship program will enhance our state’s digital workforce and fuel innovation for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Build Carolina administers the program which includes recruiting, vetting and matching apprenticeship candidates with companies and mentors. Host companies agree to hire a set number of apprentices and to appoint team members to serve as mentors. Mentors go through 16 hours of training on coaching before the apprenticeship begins. Additional information for interested host companies can be found here.

"As a pilot program, Develop Carolina accomplished 100 percent job placement for graduates. Now as a registered apprenticeship, this program has the endorsement and additional support it needs to scale, without compromising quality," said Lelia King, executive director for Build Carolina, the organization that sponsors the apprenticeship. "We are honored to be working alongside our tech employers to offer this first-of-its-kind apprenticeship model in our state." 

Any company that employs software developers is eligible to provide on-the-job training to apprentices as part of the Develop Carolina registered apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship Carolina, a division of the South Carolina Technical College System, supported Build Carolina with developing its registered apprenticeship and will continue to help recruit tech companies to sponsor apprentices.

“This unique and forward-thinking collaboration provides a wonderful opportunity to build South Carolina’s talent pipeline in a high-demand, critical field,” said Dr. Amy Firestone, vice president of Apprenticeship Carolina. “We know that a registered apprenticeship program is an effective and proven workforce development tool. Apprenticeship Carolina is committed to growing registered apprenticeship programs across the state. These programs provide companies with a valuable workforce solution and offer the apprentice a clear pathway to a rewarding career.”

Develop Carolina is hosting a series of virtual informational sessions geared toward companies and apprenticeship candidates. Click here to learn more.

Develop Carolina is run by Greenville-based nonprofit Build Carolina and partially funded by S.C. Commerce, with additional funding and support from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Apprenticeship Carolina (SAEEI and SCYARI grants) and participating employer sponsors.