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Resource Center / Justworks Updates

A Look Behind the Justworks Engineering Apprenticeship Program

One way to adapt for the future of work? Train existing employees for new roles within the company. Here's how we approached it on the Justworks engineering team.

Yujin Kim
Oct 29, 20215 minutes

Think tanks often release forecasts detailing the specific sort of knowledge, skills, and abilities that likely will be required of the workforce of the future.

But what many of those forecasts often fail to mention is that the workforce of the future is already all around us, working right now in our organizations, ready to acquire the new learning that will equip them — and their employers — to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

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Gone are the days when companies could prosper and thrive simply by plugging qualified people into static roles. Nothing is static in a world driven by constantly evolving and changing technologies. The fact is that the technical skills required of employees, as well as the technical needs of organizations, shift and reshape on an ongoing basis.

That’s why it is critical for organizations to devise a means to cultivate and sustain a truly dynamic workforce that can quickly adapt to changing requirements. And one of the most efficient ways to accomplish this is to establish an internal education program that encourages employees to constantly broaden, update and acquire new knowledge, skills and abilities, and to seek new opportunities within their own organization.

Justworks recently developed and launched such a program.

Creating the Justworks Engineering Apprenticeship Program

As a professional employer organization (PEO), we realize that many of our current and future workforce requirements are centered around the need to constantly improve and modify the products that we provide to our customers. It is only by doing so that we can make certain those customers always receive the best, most responsive offerings in the PEO market.

To ensure our ability to accomplish this, Justworks developed an educational pathway within our company that offers interested non-engineer employees access to an internal program designed to help them learn the skills necessary to contribute as members of our product engineering team.

The fact is that the technical skills required of employees, as well as the technical needs of organizations, shift and reshape on an ongoing basis.

Creating the program was not an overnight process. Product engineering requires a very specific set of skills and abilities, so we needed to devise much more than a simple mentoring initiative. To that end, we put together an internal engineering hiring working group tasked with developing a transparent, rigorous, and well-defined curriculum. The goal was to create a positive experience for program participants and maximize their chance of success within our product engineering team upon completion.

What the Apprenticeship Program Looks Like

This program aims to mine our internal workforce for potential engineering candidates who also would provide at least a partial remedy to in-person hiring challenges that have arisen in the time of COVID. We also partner with the Flatiron School and accept candidates from their John Stanley Ford Fellowship, which supports the advancement of Black tech professionals.

Eligibility for internal candidates is determined by a number of factors, including Justworks tenure (at least one year), demonstrated technical curiosity or product knowledge, previous collaboration with engineers, and manager endorsement. An eligible candidate then submits an application essay, undergoes some basic testing to determine aptitude, and goes through an interview process.

After some preparatory training, apprentices are eventually tasked with specific, hands-on engineering projects to tackle as a team.

Once accepted into the program, a candidate is treated as an apprentice training to be an entry-level engineer. They receive mentorship and coaching, and become a member of a training cohort. After some preparatory training, apprentices are eventually tasked with specific, hands-on engineering projects to tackle as a team. Through these efforts, the apprentices learn coding best practices and agile principles, write code for production, and then test and deploy their work themselves. When the apprentices successfully graduate from the projects assigned to them, Justworks then integrates them into various engineering teams, where they will have the opportunity to dive deeper into the actual business of product engineering.

Lessons Learned from the Engineering Apprenticeship Program

Justworks has been extremely pleased with the success of the program so far, and with our first wave of graduates. We are confident that the quality and enthusiasm of these engineers of the future is due to the fact that many came from other teams here at Justworks.

Catch up with two Justworks Associate Software Engineers, both graduates of the inaugural Justworks Engineering Apprenticeship Program.

We've found that our in-house training initiative strengthens and prepares our workforce to meet the future in a number of other important ways. The program, for example, serves as an opportunity for the company to reinforce Justworks’ organizational values of camaraderie, openness, grit, integrity, and simplicity (or COGIS) among the apprentices as they work. This is an important byproduct of the training, because these values also serve as ideal drivers for many of the top skills — such as teamwork, active learning and creativity — that organizations like the World Economic Forum have identified as especially critical skills for the workforce of the future.

Additionally, by its very nature, our apprenticeship program helps to strengthen our company by cultivating inclusion, providing each and every eligible employee with a path to a product engineering career. Our partnership with the Flatiron School also supports our organization's commitment to DEI.

As our graduates integrate into the company’s product engineering function, we look forward to them leveraging their apprenticeship experiences to “pay it forward” by participating in mentorship opportunities themselves.

Moving forward, Justworks will continue to refine our workforce development efforts. Based on our initial successes, we heartily encourage other organizations to look inward for the workforce of the future.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.