Increasing Access and Inclusion Through Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship programs are a proven solution for employers seeking to recruit and hire qualified workers. They’re also a promising career pathway for individuals from many diverse backgrounds, including people with disabilities. In that spirit, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) launched the Apprenticeship Inclusion Models (AIM) initiative in the fall of 2018. Its charge? To research, develop, test, and evaluate innovative strategies to support youth and adults with disabilities in existing apprenticeship programs.
Apprenticeship is a proven “earn-while-you-learn” model for preparing workers for living-wage jobs and long-term career paths, while supplying businesses with a highly skilled workforce. Registered Apprenticeship has seen a growth of 710,000 new apprentices since 2017, and the model is expanding into growth sectors in the economy, including information technology (IT), healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and transportation and logistics.
Through AIM, ODEP selected three intermediary organizations to pilot inclusive apprenticeship programs and practices to provide access to apprenticeship opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities.
- Apprenti is partnering with Microsoft and Amazon to ensure universal accessibility of recruitment and training practices for their technology apprenticeships.
- The Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) is developing formal guidance, technical assistance resources, and demonstration training sessions with two of their partner training sites.
- Working through the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP), the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) apprenticeship program is piloting the use of a new Universal Design for Learning (UDL) tool as a means to expand access for people with learning disabilities.
AIM’s mission is especially poignant given this year’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which affirms the value America places on an inclusive workforce. The AIM initiative is a natural extension of that groundbreaking law, ensuring that people with disabilities have access to lifelong careers, while giving businesses an opportunity to access the talents of the more than five million Americans with disabilities in the workforce.
Individuals interested in learning more about the AIM initiative can explore information at https://www.spra.com/aim/ and stay up to speed on promising practices and resources through the AIM newsletter.