Advancing Your Career through Inclusive Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships that are designed to be inclusive can help career seekers with disabilities develop skills to have successful careers in high-demand industries, such as technology, healthcare, cybersecurity, clean energy, human resources, and finance. If you are considering enrolling in an apprenticeship program or know someone with a disability who is interested in new career opportunities, there are a few things you should know.

Advancing your career through inclusive apprenticeship

Becoming an Apprentice

Disclosing your disability and requesting an accommodation

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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship program does more than just train you for a job. It can provide you with the skills you need to have a successful, lifelong career. Apprentices benefit from apprenticeship programs by “earning while learning.” They are paid while learning skills in their desired career. The net benefits for apprentices are large, ranging from an increase of almost $100,000 in lifetime earnings to an increase of more than $235,000 in lifetime earnings.[1] Employers benefit from apprenticeship programs by training their future workforce to meet the demands of their companies and industries.

  • Apprenticeships prepare career seekers for a wide range of occupations in most industries from trades and construction to growing fields, such as clean energy, cybersecurity, and human resources. Apprenticeships sponsors include small businesses to large corporations.
  • Apprenticeship programs start by training participants in the classroom. This training can sometimes take place in hybrid (in-person and remote) or 100% remote settings.
  • Apprenticeship programs match apprentices with an employer who will provide on-the-job training.
  • Throughout the process, apprentices receive guidance from a mentor. Mentors help apprentices learn about the company, the company’s workplace culture and community and the industry. They also guide apprentices through challenges and questions that may arise during the apprenticeship program.

How do you know if an apprenticeship is inclusive?

You may be reading this page because you are interested in apprenticeships and are a person from an underrepresented population — a person living with a disability; transitioning from the military to civilian life; from the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community; transitioning from the juvenile or criminal justice systems — or seeking a career change. An apprenticeship can be a great fit for diverse populations, as long as it is designed to be inclusive.

  • Inclusive apprenticeships ensure that career pathways created through apprenticeship programs are open to everyone. People of all races, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, ages, disabilities, sexual identities, veteran status, socio-economic status, and religions can apply to become an apprentice.
  • Inclusive apprenticeships are accessible. An accessible hiring process ensures candidates can participate in the interview and complete the paperwork. Technologies and video conferencing for remote learning are accessible. Training materials are offered in an accessible format. Inclusive apprenticeships that are accessible ensure everyone can fully participate.
  • Inclusive apprenticeships have inclusive workplaces. Companies with a culture of inclusion foster a workplace environment where all employees, including apprentices with disabilities, as well as vendors, clients, and other key groups can contribute in meaningful ways.

What are the benefits of an inclusive apprenticeship?

  • You can increase employment opportunities. Your chance of finding a full-time job in your desired career increases. After completing an apprenticeship, 94% of apprentices retain employment. Apprentices, on average, earn a starting salary of $70,000 upon completing an apprenticeship.[2]
  • You can begin a rewarding career. An advantage of inclusive apprenticeships is you begin a career in a growing industry that is in need of talented and skilled employees. A few of these growing industries include technology, cybersecurity, healthcare, clean energy, finance, healthcare, human resources, data analysis, and professional services. An inclusive apprenticeship in one of these industries can help you launch your career in one of these in-demand sectors that also offers a promise of future work.
  • You gain new skills and credentials: You will learn core job skills and knowledge about the occupation and industry. You will become familiar with working in a diverse and inclusive workplace. These practical skills will help you achieve success in your desired career.
  • You can earn a competitive wage. Inclusive apprenticeships offer competitive wages for all apprentices. The wages in a top number of occupations for apprenticeships are well above the median annual wage of $38,640 in all occupations in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[3] In 2018, the median earnings for people with disabilities was $40,457.[4] Inclusive apprenticeships will help improve your earning potential. Reed and colleagues (2012) found in a study of registered apprentices in 10 states that nine years after enrollment apprenticeship participants earned an average of $5,839 more than comparable nonparticipants and $98,718 more in lifetime earnings.[5]
  • You expand educational opportunities. You will receive on-the-job training and related in-person, remote, or hybrid classroom instruction, which are offered in accessible formats.
  • You can reduce student debt. You may be able to receive academic credit for the instruction and training you receive, which can help reduce student debt.
  • You receive a mentorship. You will work with a mentor who is an experienced industry professional and familiar with diverse workplaces. The mentor is someone you can turn to for advice and guidance about the training, job, company, industry, and more. Your mentorship is a partnership, and you will both learn from each other.

References

[1] Kuehn, Daniel. John Marotta, Bhavani Arabandi, and Batia Katz. “Inclusive Apprenticeship: A Summary of What We Know about Apprentices with Disabilities.” Urban Institute, May 2021.

[2] Jump Start Your Career Through Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship.gov

[3] Elka Torpey (updated by Ryan Farrell), “Apprenticeships: Outlook and wages in selected occupations,” Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2019.

[4] University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability/UCED, Disability Compendium Report, Sec. 5, 2019.

[5] Reed, Debbie, Liu, Albert Yung-Hsu, Kleinman, Rebecca, Mastri, Annalisa, Reed, Davin, Sattar, Samina, & Ziegler, Jessica. “An Effectiveness Assessment and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Registered Apprenticeship in 10 States.” Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research. 2012.