(Leadership, Empowerment, Apprenticeship, and Diversity in Information Technology)

is an initiative by leading enterprise IT organizations to provide an alternative pathway into mainframe IT careers, outside of traditional four-year degree programs.

With a focus on encouraging women, underrepresented minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans to pursue apprenticeships, LEAD-IT is taking an innovative approach to addressing the widening skills gap.

Organizations whose mainframe operations are essential to everyday functions face a myriad of challenges in recruiting and retaining top talent, and ensuring that employees possess the skills required in their job roles.

The traditional pathway to mainframe careers blends four-year degree programs, internships, and on-the-job training. Registered Apprenticeship Programs are an emerging avenue for new talent to join the industry. Apprenticeship programs registered with the US Department of Labor provide a unique, flexible training and education process which results in portable, verifiable credentials. These programs will equip entry-level candidates with hands-on experience and knowledge of the latest innovations and industry challenges.

Many enterprise organizations have already recognized the need for additional training by establishing their own internal programs. Developing these programs is expensive; they are difficult to successfully implement without a significant resource commitment.  Establishing a suite of brand-agnostic skills training and certification programs in the form of comprehensive apprenticeships for mainframe IT job roles will provide employers with a new method of recruiting and training talent, and creates opportunities for job candidates who have not followed the traditional pathway into the industry.

LEAD-IT (Leadership, Empowerment, Apprenticeship, and Diversity in Information Technology) is a partnership led by North Carolina A&T University.  The partnership includes SHARE, IBM, and a Community of Leaders in the enterprise IT industry who are collaborating under a US Department of Labor contract to develop and implement Registered Mainframe Apprenticeships. The program creates an alternative pathway into IT careers, and focuses on encouraging underrepresented populations to engage with private enterprise employers.  The program is a public/private partnership, utilizing public funding to foster development of the program. LEAD-IT leverages a set of nationally recognized STEM programs with a proven record of success, and private-sector industry expertise to effectively develop registered apprenticeship programs. The partnership encourages underrepresented demographics to consider career options within the mainframe.