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Increasing Access and Inclusion Through Apprenticeship

June 29, 2020

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.

Social Policy Research Associates, JFF, and Wheelhouse Group are providing technical assistance to the intermediaries.

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.