Apprenticeship program: a win-win model

As I listened to Christian speak about her life-changing experience as an apprentice in our new Registered Apprenticeship Program with Merck and YUPRO, I marveled at moving yet another step closer to our longtime goal of making education more accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Last month, we celebrated National Apprenticeship Week in New York by hosting a panel discussion on apprenticeships as an opportunity for U.S. businesses to fill skills gaps. I was honored to join our partners Merck and YUPRO and showcase two of our apprentices who illustrated just how well this model works for both employee and employer.

Christian, 30, is a mom who dropped out of college and tried her hand at several business ventures before looking to reskill in technology and gain upward economic mobility. Tamia Mack, 19, always wanted a career in technology but the pandemic prevented her family from affording college.

“I’m reading [about the apprenticeship] and I’m thinking this is too good to be true! There’s no way I’m stepping into a role that I will get paid to learn! I’m wondering, ‘Is this real?’” — Christian Burger, an OpenClassrooms/Merck apprentice

A game changing approach to close the gap between education and employment

One key takeaway from our panel discussion is that employers are desperately seeking tech workers while communities need access to affordable education, creating a significant opportunity for underserved tech jobs. Our new tech-focused apprenticeship programs give students the chance to earn while they learn  in fields like data analytics and digital marketing. When apprentices complete the transformational program, which includes our robust online training and weekly mentoring sessions, they receive an industry-recognized certificate and job-ready skills to start their new career or job. 

The turnkey program is also a win for forward-thinking companies like Merck, who can use it to grow their own talent and benefit from the loyalty this generates: a recent study has shown that 89 percent of registered apprentices stay with the company where they apprenticed for at least three years. 

The other highlight of the event for me was celebrating our designation as a Registered Apprenticeship Program with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship – a recognition we are very honored to achieve at OpenClassrooms – with a signing ceremony with Charlie McNeil, Deputy Regional Director at the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship. This recognition is a validation of our pedagogy model and of the course quality from the content to the support we offer to our students. 

Our path to power career progress: OpenClassrooms’s partnership with Merck

Our partnership with Merck is only the beginning as we expand operations in the U.S. and bring our proven apprenticeship model from Europe to America. Now is a critical time for creating a diverse and future-proof work force: recent data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that we have over 10 million job openings in the United States. If every unemployed person in the country found a job today, we would still have 4 million open jobs. Yet, tech apprenticeships currently account for just one percent of the total U.S. work force program.

Our first cohort of 11 apprentices – all people of color without four-year degrees – completed a three-month online bootcamp with OpenClassrooms before heading to Merck for a year on the job. The apprenticeship program requires apprentices to spend one day per week in OpenClassrooms’ training and four days per week at the Merck office. Our apprentices begin by earning USD 24 to USD 30 an hour, rising to approximately USD 29 to USD 36 an hour as they acquire more skills. Our mission at OpenClassrooms is to make education accessible to everyone, everywhere. 


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