It also means companies thinking more expansively about who is qualified for a job in the first place. That is evident, for example, in the way Alex Lorick, a former South Florida nightclub bouncer, was able to become a mainframe technician at I.B.M.
Mr. Lorick often worked a shift called “devil’s nine to five” — 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. — made all the more brutal when it was interspersed with day shifts. The hours were tough, but the pay was better than in his previous jobs, one at a retirement home and another serving food at a dog track. Yet it was a far cry from the type of work he had dreamed about in high school, when he liked computers and imagined making video games for a living.
As a young adult, he took online classes in web development and programming languages, but encountered a Catch-22 many job seekers know well: Nobody wanted to hire a tech worker without experience, which meant he couldn’t get enough experience to be hired. College wasn’t for him. Hence the devil’s nine to five.
Until late last year, that is. After months on unemployment during the pandemic, he heard from I.B.M., where he had once applied and been rejected for a tech job. It invited him to apply to an apprenticeship program that would pay him to be trained as a mainframe technician. Now 24, he completed his training this month and is beginning hands-on work in what he hopes is the start of a long career.
“This is a way more stable paycheck, and more consistent hours,” Mr. Lorick said. “But the most important thing is that I feel like I’m on a path that makes sense and where I have the opportunity to grow.”
Sometimes as a writer, you sense that something big is changing before your eyes. Stray data points and anecdotes all point to a big shift.
I think this is one of those times: Workers are gaining the upper hand over employers for the first time in ages.https://t.co/M1uCvQcLcv
— Neil Irwin (@Neil_Irwin) June 5, 2021