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San Francisco To Help Workers Into Tech Industry With Newly Expanded Apprentice Program

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Three hundred new apprenticeships for disadvantaged people trying to break into San Francisco's tech industry will be available over the next two years thanks to an expansion of the city's TechSF Apprenticeship Initiative, which was announced Monday.

The initiative, made possible through a partnership with the city and tech company Twilio, aims to provide a pathway for software engineers to get jobs while removing barriers to the tech industry. The program emphasizes providing opportunities to people of color, women, people with disabilities and veterans.

The office of Mayor London Breed and the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development announced the expansion Monday.

"TechSF was created to close the skills gap in the tech sector by developing talent right here in San Francisco," Breed said in a statement.

"This partnership with Twilio allows us to provide additional opportunities for San Franciscans and gives people a chance to learn and grow in a career they might not otherwise have access to. With TechSF and our other apprenticeship programs, we can make our city more equitable and ensure that all San Franciscans benefit from economic growth--no matter their background or their zip code," she said.

Through the apprenticeships, participants can get industry-recognized experience in lieu of a computer science degree, while earning a living wage.

According to the mayor's office, more than 90 percent of TechSF apprentices remain with the company where they're placed after their apprenticeships, with many receiving promotions.

TechSF is looking to fill the 300 apprentice spots by 2021.

"TechSF apprenticeships create pathways to success for San Franciscans of all backgrounds, many of whom have not been given a chance to participate in this historically strong economy," said Joaquin Torres, the director of the economic and workforce development office.

"We aim to remove barriers and find talent where other companies may not be looking. Partnering with TechSF's Apprenticeship Initiative is critical for us to identify and harness a pipeline of applicants who not only have the technical skills, but also the diverse professional and life experiences that truly add value to our workforce," Vivek Nair, head of Twilio's Hatch Apprenticeship Program, said.

"It's hard to sell your potential to an industry where you're older than the average engineer, where only three percent of the people look like you, where academic pedigree is often seen as the be-all, end-all for ability," he said.

The initiative's expansion is being announced as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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