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 Journey
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.
The Benefits of Inclusive Apprenticeship
- 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.
- 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:
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:
Building Community: PIA brings together employers, their partners, providers of services, advocates, and agencies to spur the growth of inclusive apprenticeship programs.
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.
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.
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
- The Value of Inclusive Apprenticeships: Provides employers with guidance to help them calculate the return on investment (ROI) of inclusive apprenticeships, describes the steps they can take to create a program, offers resources to make their programs inclusive of people with disabilities, and includes information about how to fund programs.
- Perspectives on Apprenticeship: What Employers Should Know About the Value of Inclusive Apprenticeship Programs: Helps employers understand the benefits of inclusive apprenticeship programs and outlines how connecting with apprenticeship partners, advocates, and people with disabilities can help create inclusive programs.
- Designing Inclusive Apprenticeships: A Guide for Recruiting & Training Apprentices with Disabilities: Offers key recommendations, resources, and approaches to drive access, inclusion, and supports to effectively source, engage, and empower success for apprentices with disabilities.
- Clean Energy Spotlight: Building Inclusive Apprenticeships in the Clean Energy Sector: Describes the core benefits of inclusive apprenticeships in the clean energy sector, which include helping close the skills gap and improve access to employment for people with disabilities in a well-paying, growing industry.
- Veterans Spotlight: Provides employers and Veterans with resources about inclusive apprenticeships for former service members, including those who have disabilities.
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.