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M&T Bank Launches Local Tech Apprenticeship Program

The world of tech is great, especially if you are in it. Yes, the world is your oyster, because the tech industry will always be growing, which means that your future is relatively secure.

That said, the tech industry is not something that you simply wake up one day and say, “I want to go apply for a tech job.”

In Buffalo, that poses a problem. Why? Because companies like M&T Bank are investing and growing, while bringing new tech jobs to the table. But in order to get a tech job, you need to have some training. So where does one go to get this training?

To resolve this conundrum, M&T Bank, in collaboration with IBM, Franklin Apprenticeships, and the Urban Institute, has launched a Z Development Program (ZDP) initiative that is considered “a first-of-its-kind IT infrastructure apprenticeship program for employers across the country.”

Named for the IBM Z enterprise platform, the ZDP initiative will develop entry-level technologists who will support mission critical, core banking platforms that run on IBM Z and connect community members with in-demand skills to start careers in technology.

This infrastructure apprenticeship program, created by IBM, is considered a “New Collar” workforce program designed to attract and train IBM Z talent that will help tech companies to better source talent potential from untapped talent pools. Ultimately, this Mainframe Apprenticeship will help potential job applicants from non-traditional backgrounds and underserved communities to tap into tech positions that they would otherwise not have the ability to access and potentially fill.

“The ZDP initiative will eliminate barriers to accessing the skills necessary for rewarding careers in technology,” said Mike Wisler, Chief Information Officer at M&T Bank. “In launching this local apprenticeship program, we will help solve a challenge facing our industry by expanding opportunities for people within our Buffalo community. Working alongside other components of our Tech Academy program, it will contribute to our region’s collective efforts to build a diverse technology workforce that drives innovation and inclusive growth.”

“In the era of hybrid cloud, investment in IBM Z skills in key areas like resiliency, security, flexibility and application modernization are a critical piece of digital transformation,” said Meredith Stowell, VP, IBM Z Ecosystem. “The program creates a scalable model that simplifies apprenticeship adoption for large and small employers across the country ready to hire and provides more accessible opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds to build the IT skills businesses need.”

This new initiative is part of a widespread charge to address inclusion and diversity within the tech workforce. Plus, this is not simply talk for the sake of it – M&T is making a stand by committing to hire 10 ZDP apprentices, certified with Department of Labor (DOL) credentials, for its 2021 program.  

The two-year ZDP curriculum and apprenticeship will include:

  • Foundational Pre-Apprenticeship Training: Three months of pre-apprenticeship training will occur before candidates are hired to provide a foundation in technology and digital skills and introductions to mainframe development and other specialized tech fields.
  • Formal Apprenticeship: A formal 12-month DOL-registered apprenticeship program will provide over 1,000 hours of on-the-job training and over 300 hours of virtual classroom instruction.
  • Continuous Learning and Professional Development: For the final 12 months of the program, ZDP participants will take courses through M&T’s Center for Learning and Development and the Tech Academy and receive more on-the-job training.
  • Apprentices will earn a salary throughout the program, and tuition and training costs are covered by federal grants secured by IBM.

“In a historically blue-collar city like Buffalo, creating accessible pathways to new-collar jobs can drive greater inclusion and diversity in Western New York’s technology ecosystem,” said Glenn Jackson, M&T Bank Chief Diversity Officer. “Many of these jobs don’t require formal education or traditional career experience. Instead, candidates can learn the skills they need through on-the-job training, technical training or apprenticeship programs. Our ZDP initiative, for example, will equip apprentices with enterprise computing skills that are incredibly important to the bank yet remarkably scarce nationwide. It will help open doors to tech careers for people who may have previously been left out.”

The ZDP initiative is part of M&T’s plans to exponentially grow in Buffalo via its new Tech Hub at Seneca One, while launching a Tech Academy during the first half of 2021

Recruiting for pre-apprenticeship training is now underway. Applicants interested in becoming a ZDP apprentice can learn more and apply at:

Lead image: Photo by Christina @

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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