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Cañada College Awarded $1 Million to Build the First Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Extended Reality (VR/AR) Developer Program in the State

Wed, 27 April, 2022 at 10:21 am



Cañada College has been awarded $1 million (two $500,000 grants) to create and manage the State’s first and only XR game developer pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship program through the State of California Division of Apprenticeship Standards Extended Reality (XR) Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Program. The XR Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Programs were designed to create access for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) student populations and underrepresented groups to mid- and high-paying tech roles as three-dimensional (3D) and two-dimensional (2D) game and interactive simulations developers.

The California State Chancellor’s Office created the California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Grant Programs to help meet the State’s need for an educated and skilled workforce as well as to promote economic recovery and equity in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs will support the creation of pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in non-traditional, emerging and innovative sectors, and increase the accessibility to sustainable, high-wage jobs for individuals from historically marginalized and underserved backgrounds.

In partnership with Foothill College, the funding provides Cañada College an opportunity to create programs such as the not-for-credit Unity Developer program. Unity is a video game engine used to make exciting Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), 2D and 3D video games by thousands of game studios worldwide. Designed for Unity beginners, this course starts with the basics all the way through knowing the basics of creating AR and VR games. The course is virtual so students throughout the state can enroll, although priority registration will be given to students in the Bay Area region. After completing the apprenticeship program, students would be eligible for employment opportunities as technical artists, game developers and VR/AR programmers for companies that utilize the Unity Engine.

With this, students will have access to an emerging tech field that many four-year programs do not train graduates for. These roles do not require a four-year degree removing the barrier for more marginalized and underrepresented students and community members to obtain access to careers that historically have been difficult to attain in a reduced time frame within the Tech industry. “Through this partnership, our goal is to create an epicenter for training a new generation of innovative minds that will power the Silicon Valley well into the future,” stated Kim Lopez, Interim College President. “This grant will provide Cañada College with funds to connect our students with innovative tools and provide access to achieve the training and experience needed for an in-demand career in Tech.”

"Foothill College is excited to be in partnership with Cañada College and serve as their Local Education Agency (LEA) for the State's first Augmented Reality Apprenticeship Program,” said Chris Allen, Dean of Apprenticeship Programs, Foothill College. “Our faculty are excited to collaborate and partner with an industry employer like Unity and support this new and innovative apprenticeship pathway aligns with one of our college's core values, innovation."

According to Burning Glass, as of 2020, there has been a 1,400 percent job growth for AR/VR engineers and a 146 percent job growth for game developers with a large majority of these employers headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Cañada College XR programs will work with all Bay Area Community College Consortium Game Design programs to develop a talent pipeline of students who will be eligible for the pre-apprenticeship program, apprenticeship program, and full-time employment upon program completion. Apprentices start earning $23/hour the first six months, increase to $25/hour in the second six months, and $28/hour in the last six months. Journeymen-level developers will earn at minimum $75,000 annually and can potentially earn more than $100,000 depending upon skill level.

The Pre-Apprenticeship program, which costs $99, begins on June 13 and registration is open.  Students who successfully complete this course are eligible to apply for an 18-month Registered Apprenticeship in XR beginning in September 2022. The Registered Apprenticeship offers apprentices the opportunity to “earn and learn,” working as full-time employees with participating employers and receiving pay increases every six months. For information about the program visit: 

“California has always been a leader in technology, but it’s also responsible for pushing the status quo when it comes to who defines what that technology is and what it can be,” said Joy Horvath, Senior Instructional Designer at Unity. “The California State Chancellor’s Office created the California Apprenticeship Initiative (CAI) stands to change that narrative by bringing vital technical training to the most accessible centers of learning in the state: the community college system. By leveling the playing field, the CAI will help redefine who will lead the fourth industrial revolution.”

About Cañada College: For more than 50 years, Cañada College has provided enriching and life-changing educational opportunities for the residents of San Mateo County. With the support and guidance from award-winning faculty and staff, residents can pursue certificates and degrees for career training or serve as a transfer gateway to four-year colleges and universities. Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Cañada College offers day, evening, weekend, in-person and online courses in more than 40 quality instructional programs, including science, business, multimedia, medical assisting, the arts and technical training. Cañada College provides extensive “wrap-around” student support services in counseling, orientation, certificate and degree planning, transfer assistance and tutoring. Begin your Cañada College experience by visiting





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