GCP and Interapt launch new initiative to bridge the IT talent and equity gap in Greater Cleveland

Urban City Codes (Photo by Tondi Allen)

The program includes a Registered Apprenticeship program

By Laura DeMarco

The Greater Cleveland Partnership and Interapt, a Louisville-based workforce development company, have launched a new program aimed at bridging the IT talent and equity gap in Greater Cleveland.  By recruiting, training and delivering high-quality, diverse apprentices to clients, the Workforce Connect IT Sector Partnership Talent Accelerator initiative provides opportunity for everyone: employers get high-skilled, diverse talent in high-demand positions, and the apprentices get the skills that provide them a pathway to success.

The Talent Accelerator will leverage a 12-month Registered Apprenticeship model to create inclusive and equitable IT workforce development pathways for underrepresented populations.

“This partnership enables opportunity and eliminates barriers by providing training, apprenticeships and individually-focused coaching and mentoring support, as well as wraparound services such transportation, childcare and counseling,” said Craig Platt, Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Managing Director, IT Sector Partnership- Talent

“We are working together on multiple levels to accelerate the readiness of industry-credentialed, entry level talent into Greater Cleveland businesses.”

Minority-owned Interapt was founded in 2011 by Ankur Gopal; this is the company’s first initiative in Cleveland.

 “Joining forces with the Greater Cleveland Partnership propels our shared commitment to bridging the tech talent and equity gap in communities across America. Together, we are building a new generation of diverse tech talent for businesses to tap into at scale,” said Merabeth Martin, CPO & President, Interapt Skills.

 “Companies in Cleveland want to recruit top-tier talent, while at the same time building a more diverse workforce, this partnership is the perfect fit to help them meet both of those goals.”

There are significant benefits for businesses. The program reduces the cost of recruiting, developing, and hiring talent; provides equity in talent development; and improves retention.

The first cohort of 25 diverse students, focused on software development and cybersecurity, recently completed training through Urban City Codes, earning their industry credentials. United Way of Cleveland, Ohio Means Jobs Cuyahoga County and GCP provided the funding for the training and certifications. The first apprentice was deployed at the end of October and graduates are currently being placed. Students were selected from communities that have traditionally been overlooked by the tech industry, including people of color, non-degreed individuals and veterans. They earned CompTIA industry credentials and certifications through the program.


Randy Banks

Graduate Randy Banks just began an Interapt software engineer apprenticeship. Prior to tech bootcamp, he had a high school degree and barber license.

“I was interested in tech, but I didn’t know anybody in tech,” he said.  “There was nobody I could turn to for advice or with questions until I learned about this program.”

The Talent Accelerator provides more than just technical training, he added.

“A lot of people may not even try to get into tech because they think they are not qualified for tech jobs — nobody they know is in tech, none of their friends or family. It changes your perspective when you see people who look like you. This program provides hope, and possibilities.”

It’s not just the technical training that is integral to removing barriers, he added.

“Funding is usually the first barrier people come across, and by taking away that barrier it takes away one excuse for people.  But lack of transportation and childcare can also be barriers, and this initiative assists with that, too.

“This program allows people to empower themselves, it gives people a choice and opportunity and brings equity to an area.”

The Talent Accelerator includes several phases, and involves other training partners, including Apprenti.

  • Phase I, Team Tech Talent as a Service, accelerates the readiness of industry-credentialed, entry level talent into businesses via a registered apprenticeship program.
  • Phase II, Projects, accelerates the development of mid-level talent via exposure and experience executing more complex IT projects, roles, and assignments, in a short cycle time, 24-30 months.
  • Phase III, Managed Services, accelerates the business cycle time for talent availability for acquisition.

“This initiative creates an equitable pathway for underrepresented talent,” said Mel Trass, Interapt VP of Skills, Talent, and Client Success. “We provide personalized technical and professional skills coaching and the tools/resources need to support long-term success, but it’s the apprentice who brings their drive and commitment to quality to the experience. “


For more on getting involved with the Tech Accelerator, contact Craig Platt, GCP Managing Director, IT Sector Partnership- Talent: [email protected], 216-592-2293.

For more on Interapt


Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Inclusive Opportunity and Abundant Talent.


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