The Urban Institute, a nonprofit policy research organization, is receiving $2 million from Google’s philanthropic arm,

The money will be used to expand and build apprenticeships in tech for small and medium-sized businesses in both North and South Carolina.

On Monday, several government, education and business leaders gathered at Wake Technical Community College’s RTP Campus to discuss the importance of apprenticeship in the workforce.

John Loyack, vice president of economic development for the North Carolina Community College System, said, “It brings together the government, academics and business all at the same time. We all have the same desire: to make sure the businesses in North Carolina have the talent that they need.”

Google’s grant will fund on-the-job training, classroom learning and mentorship to help small and medium-sized businesses recruit, train and retain people in tech roles such as software development and data analytics.

“This is the first time I’ve seen businesses taking a very serious look at apprenticeship as an opportunity to develop the workforce that they need,” Loyack said.

“We’re working with folks through our partners to get people in these positions,” said Google representative Lilyn Hester. “Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and, unfortunately, too often they do not have the resources to build and maintain the type of apprenticeship programs their bigger competitors can easily offer.”

Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-2) noted that paid apprenticeships are a common path to a new skill set for people looking to change jobs or industries.

“The spirit and vibrancy of Wake County apprenticeship programs help ensure not only the growth of Wake County’s fantastic business community but also give nontraditional learners a pathway to success in the new sectors,” she said.

The program will run through 2025, and organizers plan to hire 200 registered tech apprentices across North and South Carolina.

These leaders also say that support for apprenticeships could yield a better economy in the long run.

“Urban Institute researchers have shown how registered apprenticeships create pathways for growth and opportunity – increasing pay and boosting the economy,” Zach Boren with the Urban Institute said in a news release.