Helping to create inclusive apprenticeship programs for people with disabilities
Helping to create inclusive apprenticeship programs for people with disabilities
Only 37.8% of adult job seekers with disabilities are in the labor force, compared to 77.2% of those without disabilities. Since its launch in 2020, the PIA team has driven policies and practices aligned with our vision to close this gap by growing and expanding apprenticeships for people with disabilities.
PIA is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and led by an expert team of consultants from Wheelhouse Group. We foster access to inclusive apprenticeships for career seekers with disabilities in rapidly expanding industries that need skilled workers. These high-growth, high-demand (HGHD) industries include clean energy, information technology (IT), cybersecurity, healthcare, and finance. Apprenticeships designed to be inclusive can create a pipeline of diverse candidates with disabilities to fill jobs in these growing fields.
Through the dedicated efforts of the PIA team and the guidance of ODEP leadership and our partners, in less than two years we have made a significant and measurable impact. Here is a snapshot of what we have accomplished since we started our work in October of 2020:
We take a human centered design approach to our work, collaborating with subject matter experts (SMEs) to help tackle pressing policy challenges. By connecting with 110+ people we are able to create projects and resources that make an impact. We collaborate with and learn from these SMEs and a cross-sector network of organizations and individuals to advance apprenticeship opportunities for people with disabilities.
At conferences and events across the country, we raise awareness about how inclusive apprenticeship programs can help close the talent gap and influence employers to create inclusive programs. We connect with people working in apprenticeship-related organizations and HGHD industries. No matter the size of the event where we’re speaking, our audiences walk away with policies and tools to launch an inclusive apprenticeship program or revamp an existing program to be more inclusive.
The people who attend our presentations serve various roles within their organizations. Attendees at our talks have included CEOs from Fortune 500 technology companies, HR and talent acquisition specialists, workforce development board members, government agency staff, policy experts, and more. Regardless of where they work, we provide every person who attends our sessions with the tools to advocate for advancing inclusive apprenticeship programs and an understanding of how inclusive apprenticeship can benefit employers, intermediaries, and jobseekers.
PIA’s intermediary partners share our vision to grow and expand apprenticeships for people with disabilities and underrepresented groups more broadly. With PIA’s guidance, our partners apply best practices of inclusion and accessibility in everything they do. They work tirelessly to ensure that the more than 2,100 apprentices they support, many of whom are people with disabilities, can succeed in their apprenticeship journeys and in their future careers.
Tony Granillo’s Apprenticeship Journey
Tony Granillo served in the Army for 14 years until he suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries. Through our partners at Apprenti, he secured an apprenticeship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and was later offered a full-time position at AWS as a Solutions Architect. Find out more about Tony’s apprenticeship journey.
Chad Chaffee’s Apprenticeship Journey
When Chad Chaffee first joined Apprenti he hid his ADHD, but quickly realized the program staff welcomed and supported people with disabilities. “The first thing that I noticed was an immediate display of acceptance and willing[ness] to help,” said Chad during an interview for PIA’s Apprenticeship for All podcast. Find out more about Chad’s apprenticeship journey.
We provide technical assistance to our partners to support their role in advancing inclusive apprenticeship programs that train apprentices to enter into growing fields. We work with 13 intermediary programs in industries including technology, healthcare, clean energy, and human resources, providing technical assistance to meet their goals. Visit PIA’s Intermediaries page for a full list of PIA’s partners.
We take pride in our work, which is why we are so excited when organizations and news outlets share what we do with their audiences. Our materials have been published in over 70 news outlets, blogs, and newsletters, including:
Our expertise in apprenticeship, inclusion, and DEIA more broadly enables us to target our efforts where they are needed most. Working alongside our partners, we use our collective expertise to build free resources that help fill the gap in understanding about the why and how of developing inclusive apprenticeships to create DEIA-driven workplaces and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Our resources have been viewed on our website over 9,400 times.
We help employers and apprenticeship leaders respond to pressing issues:
PIA’s award-winning website is a place where our audience and the general public can access content about inclusive apprenticeships and related policies. From novice to expert, there is something for everyone who wants to learn more.
We know that many people use social media to get information. We leverage our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, to keep our audience up to date. We activate these channels to share PIA resources, give insight into inclusion and apprenticeship-related topics, and share exciting happenings. Our social content has appeared on social feeds more than 63,000 times.
PIA’s Apprenticeship for All podcast episodes have had over 159,000 pageviews and downloads. In partnership with Workology.com—an HR learning platform reaching more than 100,000 HR professionals—we have produced episodes on topics ranging from the return on investment of inclusive apprenticeship to the workforce needs of the solar industry and how to create a DEIA-driven workplace.
In alignment with the priorities of the White House and ODEP, we are committed to helping employers and their apprenticeship partners apply DEIA best practices to their programs. We help them approach recruitment and hiring through an intersectional lens, considering the multiple identities of an individual and how that plays a role in DEIA efforts. As a result, companies not only build a pipeline to access untapped talent, but they are more likely to attract and retain other underrepresented workers and move closer to achieving their DEIA goals.
“It is important that employers consider intersectionality as they approach recruitment and training of apprentices with disabilities who can, in more ways than one, help to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.”
– Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor
PIA brings together employers, our apprenticeship partners, workforce boards, advocates, and government agency leaders to help spur the growth of inclusive apprenticeship programs. We hold think tank meetings, webinars, training sessions, and give presentations throughout the year to create opportunities to collaborate.
PIA builds on state and federal policies, sharing proven models and best practices informed by our stakeholders. We produce policy briefs to support the development of inclusive apprenticeship programs and help our stakeholders align their efforts with DEIA best practices.
 The term “intersectionality” refers to a framework for understanding that individuals can identify with multiple identities. (For instance, a person who is Black can also identify as being a person with a disability.) The term is often used when discussing the complexity of discrimination and bias. To learn more about intersectionality as it relates to the workplace, read: “5 ways intersectionality affects diversity and inclusion at work” from the World Economic Forum.