1. NITAS Project Proposal submitted by SUNY Institute of Technology 1
National Information Technology Apprenticeship System (NITAS)
The Development of the IT Industry in New York State and Beyond
Imagine a corporate executive and a college professor working together to produce a
college graduate with exactly the right skills and work experience to ensure immediate
career success. This is more than just an imaginary concept: it is NITAS. Multiply this
vision by three colleges, sixty corporations and two hundred students, and you can begin
to envision the impact of the Mohawk Valley NITAS Consortium.
What is NITAS?
NITAS is an innovative new workforce development system that integrates education,
certification and skill validation through a personal coaching system, resulting in a highly
effective IT workforce. Through NITAS, employers and educators collaborate to define
and support a system of classroom and workplace experiences that lead to exactly the
right set of skills and knowledge required for a successful IT career. In NITAS, this set
of experiences is termed an apprenticeship.
NITAS IT Apprenticeship concentrations identify the competencies required for a
successful career in information technology. NITAS paves the way for students to start
careers while they’re still in college, and enables IT workers to develop and validate
critical on-the-job competencies. NITAS helps companies develop and validate worker
abilities to make them more productive; it enables educators to extend their benefits
beyond the classroom, into the workplace.
NITAS was developed jointly by CompTIA and the U.S. Department of Labor in
response to the shortage of fully trained IT workers in the United States. When the
Department of Labor asked for a way to systematically develop a talented IT workforce,
CompTIA accepted the challenge. Through a complex system of skills identification and
validation, CompTIA and its IT industrial membership created the National Information
Technology Apprenticeship System, NITAS.
NITAS in the Mohawk Valley
The Mohawk Valley NITAS Consortium is one of a handful of pilot installations of this
exciting new IT certification process. In fact, the Consortium is the first community-
based implementation in the nation; it is, in a sense, a proving ground for the NITAS
system. The project is led by the State University of New York Institute of Technology
(SUNYIT) in concert with Mohawk Valley Community College and Herkimer County
Community College. All three colleges are located in Central New York, minutes from
Rome's Air Force Research Laboratory and Griffiss Institute, and their many federal
contractors, a robust community of high tech employers.
The New York State Department of Labor projects that IT employment is a growth
opportunity in Central New York, yet employers find it difficult to identify and recruit
experienced IT professionals. In response, some high-tech employers have begun to
create internship opportunities for local college students. Mike Miravelli, CEO of
Dolphin Technology Inc., says NITAS is the next generation of the internship process:
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"The NITAS program is exactly what we have been looking for at Dolphin for the past
five years. As a company owner and CEO, I spend a tremendous amount of time and
resources growing the best possible engineering staff. Over the years, we have developed
multilayered intern programs that range from employing and training high school
students to employing undergraduate students as part-time engineers. Additionally, we
spend a very large amount of money on continuing education and training for our full-
time engineers. We also run in-house training programs for our new employees who join
us directly after graduating from college. By far, the need for additional education and
training of employees, is a function of the skills and knowledge that they did not acquire
in colleges or universities, despite receiving degrees in the Computer Sciences. We also
note this negative trend in engineers we acquire from other technology companies.
Despite glowing resumes and satisfactory interviews, we find far too many software
engineers lack many of the basic skills once they are assigned tasks to perform. So, what
does NITAS do for me? It addresses the three critical areas that my company needs to be
1. We can work directly with colleges and universities to help develop curricula that more
accurately prepares students for a career in the computer sciences. I can spend less time
and money training employees and enjoy the benefit of a much more effective
engineering work force entering the employment pool.
2. We can better assess new employees qualifications based on certifications that require
demonstrated skills and knowledge. That is a huge savings in personnel turnover, startup
productivity, and follow-on training costs.
3. We can begin to grow our own workforce with students entering college. NITAS ties
together all the interning programs we run at Dolphin into a single, focused undertaking
aimed at creating a pipeline, beginning as early as high school, of engineers into our staff.
Having worked in the IT field since 1966, I believe that NITAS is one of the best ideas to
come along in many, many years.
How will it work?
Mohawk Valley NITAS Consortium members will create one integrated online college
catalog of credit and non-credit education courses that fulfill the competency
requirements of various apprenticeship concentrations. With personal support from
NITAS coaches, students will progress through the NITAS system by taking courses
while they work at apprenticeships with participating corporations. Coaches will validate
the attainment of a competency when apprentices demonstrate that they can ‘do’ what
they learned. In other words, NITAS apprentices must successfully apply their
knowledge on the job to become certified.
Corporate Consortium partners will work with experienced NITAS coaches to place
apprentices on jobs that both fulfill competency requirements and assist the corporation
with critical IT functions. The job sites represent the final validation of competency
achievement and play an important role in the NITAS system. Working together, the
college and corporate coaches offer a personal network of support for NITAS apprentices
as they work their way through the system.
Beyond the Mohawk Valley
When SUNYIT began working with NITAS in the summer of 2004, it became apparent
that the program's success depended on the skills and engagement of the coaches. In
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response, SUNYIT created the position of Master Coach, an individual who will train,
support and oversee the coach network among the Consortium partners. Building on this
capacity and expertise, SUNYIT proposes to expand the NITAS network beyond the
Mohawk Valley to the rest of the rest of the SUNY system.. The goal is to assist all
interested SUNY institutions to identify and support coaches and apprentices on their
campuses. Additionally, the Master Coach and NITAS director will work with other
regions of New York State to engage local corporations in the process.
The ultimate goal of this project is to develop the capacity and expertise to enable
SUNYIT to assist US four year colleges and universities as they adopt the NITAS model
for their communities..
We request support for the accelerated implementation of NITAS for the Mohawk Valley
Consortium and the SUNY system.. SUNYIT will serve as the project leader, initially
working closely with its sister institutions, Mohawk Valley Community College and
Herkimer County Community College. This support will also enable SUNYIT to develop
the internal capacity to assist other SUNY institutions as they adopt NITAS for their
communities. Anticipated outcomes include:
1. Create sustainable infrastructure at SUNYIT, MVCC and HCCC to support NITAS
system for local college students and incumbent IT workers.
2. Create network of 60 corporate partners who will participate as NITAS Consortium
apprenticeship and/or incumbent worker sites.
3. Identify, train and oversee NITAS coach network recruited from the three colleges and
their corporate partners.
4. Recruit, register and place 200 NITAS apprentices representing the three colleges and
their corporate partners.
5. Develop one integrated catalog with NITAS competencies mapped to credit and non-
credit courses from the three institutions and their training partners.
6. Identify and develop new courses to fill NITAS competency gaps in existing Consortium
7. Develop and implement NITAS incumbent IT worker system with 6 corporations who
will serve as examples for other local employers.
8. Develop Coach School at SUNYIT, capable of training and supporting coaches from
throughout the SUNY system.
9. SUNYIT will develop promotion plan and requisite materials to disseminate NITAS to
all SUNY institutions.
10. Seek grant funding for the expansion and enhancement of NITAS in the Mohawk Valley
beyond the pilot phase.
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The proposed project will establish a strong base of support for the full implementation of
NITAS in New York State – and beyond. By developing the pilot project in the Mohawk
Valley, every NYS employer and educator will be able to adopt NITAS in their
community with minimal risk and effort. The powerful NITAS system will expedite the
attainment of a robust Information Technology industry in New York State and
eventually throughout the United States.