Three circles with embedded photos. From left to right: hands typing on a keyboard; three people having a discussion in the workplace; two people collaborating using a tablet. Background watermarks include icons of the outlines of four individuals; an outline of a person pointing to a whiteboard; outlines of two people sitting at a computer.The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is committed to long-term efforts to grow and expand apprenticeships, especially for diverse, underserved, and underrepresented communities. Launched in 2020, the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship (PIA), an ODEP-funded project, drives policies and practices to improve access to career pathways and talent pipelines.

PIA fosters access to inclusive apprenticeships for career seekers with disabilities across demographic groups in high-growth, high-demand (HGHD) fields. Its work focuses on key HGHD fields, such as clean energy, information technology (IT), cybersecurity, healthcare, and finance.

What is an Inclusive Apprenticeship?

An inclusive apprenticeship is an apprenticeship designed to support full access and inclusion for all apprentices, including people with disabilities. Inclusive apprenticeship programs help widen the talent pool and provide key opportunities for diverse career seekers. These programs help them to attain crucial credentials and sharpen their skills to succeed in their desired careers.

Tony’s Apprenticeship JourneyTony Granillo headshot in combat uniform.

Tony Granillo, who identifies as a person with a disability, served in the Army for 14 years until he suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries. He later joined the Apprenti program to pursue a technology career through an apprenticeship. Apprenti is a non-profit that helps place people from underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities, into technology apprenticeships. Through Apprenti, he secured an apprenticeship with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Within a year, Tony completed his apprenticeship and was offered a full-time position as a Solutions Architect at AWS.

 

Read more about Tony’s apprenticeship journey.

The Benefits of Inclusive Apprenticeship

For employers:

  • Inclusive apprenticeships can help employers build their diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible (DEIA) workforces of trained, skilled workers. Employers who invest in hiring people with disabilities can reap financial advantages and growth. Read, “The Value of Inclusive Apprenticeship.”
     
  • Employers can benefit greatly from hiring job candidates with disabilities. They often achieve increased revenue, greater retention, attraction of a more diverse customer base, and a more inclusive and accessible workplace culture. Learn more about the benefits to employers.

For jobseekers:

  • Inclusive apprenticeship programs can help expand access to gainful employment and career paths for diverse career seekers who have a wide range of disability types (e.g., cognitive, neurological, physical, mental health, sensory, etc.).
     
  • People with disabilities who enroll in inclusive apprenticeship programs can earn wages while they gain on-the-job training and lifelong skills to succeed in high-growth, high-demand fields. Find out how inclusive apprenticeships can advance careers.

PIA Advances Inclusion

The project advances efforts to develop and scale inclusive apprenticeship programs that can enable people with disabilities to thrive in jobs in growing industries. The project works with employers and their partners to design programs that meet businesses' most critical hiring needs.

Approaching Our Work Through an Intersectional Lens

People with disabilities can identify with multiple demographics. Many underrepresented populations have a higher share of people with disabilities than the general population. For example, 1 in 3 Veterans, 1 in 4 Black Americans, 1 in 4 women, 3 in 10 Non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 2 in 5 state and federal prisoners identify as having a disability. Each year, more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons, meaning that a large portion of formerly incarcerated individuals have disabilities as well. The following graphic represents the number of people within each demographic who identify as having a disability: 

Five columns representing ratios of individuals in different demographics who identify as having a disability: 1 in 3 Veterans; 1 in 4 Black Americans; 1 in 4 women; 3 in 10 Non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives; 2 in 5 State and Federal Prisoners. 

Employers who create accessible and inclusive workplaces that support hiring, training, and retaining people with disabilities, are more likely to attract and retain other underrepresented workers. As a result, companies not only build a pipeline to access untapped talent, but they move closer to achieving their DEIA goals.

In alignment with the priorities of the White House, PIA is committed to helping employers and apprenticeship partners apply DEIA best practices to their apprentice programs to create career opportunities for people with disabilities.

Apprenticeship programs are a great avenue to train underrepresented workers to enter competitive industries, removing hiring barriers that limit opportunity along the lines of race, color, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ status, religion, disability, age, and veteran status.

Designed to support the accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, PIA resources are free and open to the public. By extension, employers and apprenticeship partners can use our resources to help facilitate the hiring process of diverse workers more broadly. For apprenticeship programs to be fully inclusive and accessible, employers and apprenticeship partners should consider intersectionality as they design their programs.

Setting the Stage

PIA sets the stage to expand inclusive apprenticeships for people with disabilities across demographics by:

Icon showing the outline of two heads joined together to indicate collaboration.Building Community: PIA brings together employers, their partners, providers of services, advocates, and agencies to spur the growth of inclusive apprenticeship programs.

Icon of an outline of a clipboard with a checkmark.Turning Policy into Practice: PIA builds on government policies, shares proven models and practices, collaborates with companies that inform state policy, and produces policy briefs to support DEIA.

Icon of an outline of an open book with an arrow pointing to an open page.Developing Resources: PIA creates targeted resources to provide its stakeholders with tools and resources to navigate the landscape of apprenticeships and develop or enhance inclusive programs.

Resources

     Icon of a microphone with the words "Apprenticeship for All Podcast". 

Apprenticeship for All Podcast: Explores how employers and apprenticeship organizations benefit from creating inclusive apprenticeship programs and how these programs increase access to jobs in growing industries for people with disabilities.

For Employers and Their Apprenticeship Partners

For Prospective and Current Apprentices with Disabilities

  • Advancing Your Career through Inclusive Apprenticeship: Provides guidance for current and potential apprentices with disabilities; describes topics such as the benefits of becoming an apprentice, how to ensure that an apprenticeship program is inclusive, and the steps to become a new apprentice and voluntarily disclose a disability.

Connect with PIA