Kohl’s Announces Second Registered Apprenticeship Program Cohort with Apprenti, MKE Tech Hub


Kohl’s continues commitment to attract and grow diverse talent while removing barriers to entry

At Kohl’s, we’re committed to our people - both our current associates and potential associates that can make a positive impact on our business. A piece of this commitment includes broadening our sourcing strategies to drive equity and inclusion. We know talent comes from all kinds of backgrounds, with, and without degrees, and because of this, Kohl’s is working to diversify its candidate pipeline and create opportunities for all individuals. 

As a part of these efforts, Kohl’s is announcing the second cohort of its Registered Software Developer Apprentice program to continue work towards bridging the tech talent  gap.

“Kohl’s first cohort of apprentices has shown great promise and strong results even amidst the global pandemic and shift to remote work, proving it to be a viable piece of our talent strategy,” said Paul Gaffney, Kohl’s chief technology and supply chain officer. “Technology continues to present a tremendous opportunity to shift our mindset when it comes to recruiting, training and retaining talent. We are constantly looking for ways to in-source our technology work and we look forward to further strengthening our teams with exceptional talent.” 

The launch of the second cohort comes after the successful pilot of 10 apprentices from diverse backgrounds that began in March 2021, also alongside Apprenti and the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition. The first cohort came from across the country including Wisconsin, Florida, Kentucky and Texas among others. These individuals have since finished their initial 14-week instruction period and are now completing a year of on-the-job training within Kohl’s alongside mentors in their desired roles. To-date, three of the members in the first cohort have been converted to full-time employees of Kohl’s earlier than anticipated, with the remainder of the cohort on track for full-time employment at the end of their training period in June. 

The unique program puts candidates on an accelerated career path with opportunities that may not otherwise exist, removes potential barriers to entry in the tech field, and seeks to promote diversity in tech. Among the first and second Kohl’s cohorts, 25% of the apprentices came in with no college degree and 85% had no previous academic background in technology.

“Being a part of the Kohl’s apprenticeship program has made such an impact on my life and I am so grateful for the experience I’ve had and the opportunities this program has given me,” said Alice Culin-Ellison, an apprentice in the first cohort who has since been hired as a full-time Kohl’s associate. “Coming from a music performance background with no tech experience, I wasn’t sure if a career shift was possible, but I couldn’t be happier that I went all-in and that I had the support of a company like Kohl’s.” 

For its second cohort, Kohl’s has again teamed up with Apprenti, the nation’s first technology apprenticeship program registered by the U.S. Department of Labor, to identify individuals with the aptitude and potential to succeed at a career in technology. The accepted individuals began their intense technical training through Apprenti in March of this year, and those who successfully complete the technical training will begin a year of on-the-job training with Kohl’s in June. Kohl’s aims to bring in 11 new technology associates through the second cohort.

“We are thrilled to be supporting Kohl’s in their second apprenticeship program,” said Jennifer Carlson, Apprenti’s co-founder and executive director. “Taking on a cohort of this size is a large investment and speaks to Kohl’s commitment to tech talent development. The scale of this program is extremely impactful and will serve the business and individuals positively for years to come.”

In collaboration with the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition, a non-profit organization working to inclusively double tech talent in the Milwaukee region, Kohl’s is working to create  opportunities and reach a broad range of candidates in order to develop the tech talent in the region, and drive regional economic success, innovation and diversity in technology.

“Together with Kohl’s, we are committed to attracting and developing net new tech talent from a wide variety of both traditional and non-traditional sources. Registered Tech Apprenticeship is a great example of a public-private partnership that has proven results both regionally and in other key markets across the country” said Laura Schmidt, Chief Talent Development Officer for the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition. “The involvement of local employers is key to success and we are grateful to again be collaborating with Kohl’s to continue to improve and build capacity for additional cohorts.”

To learn more about Kohl’s Technology careers, visit Careers.Kohls.com.