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Transcript: Empowering Stories from Black Women in Inclusive Apprenticeships

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Hi everyone, welcome to our Empowering Stories from Black Women in Inclusive Apprenticeships today, on the last day of Black History Month. My name is Lauren Rabb, I’m a project manager here at the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship. We’re really excited to have everyone joining us today. Just to let you all know a few things before I pass it off to my colleagues, this webinar is going to be recorded. We’ll be posting that recording and as well as the resources that we discuss on the PIA website in the coming days as well as on the Office of Apprenticeship website as well. We will do Q&A at the end. This is kind of a tight one-hour session that we have today, so I want to be sure we have time for everyone to hear the great stories from our panelists. But feel free to add your questions in the chat whenever it comes to your mind. But we probably won’t be addressing them verbally until the Q&A session at the end.

There is live CART captioning available in this session if you go to the meeting controls toolbar at the bottom of your screen click on the Show Captions icon and those should show up for you. And after the event, there will be a link sent out via chat in this session as well as via email with the link to give us feedback, so please be sure to fill that out. And just real quick, to go through the agenda for today, we’re first going to hear a welcome from the Office of Apprenticeship from Randy Copeland as well as a welcome from the Office of Disability Employment Policy from Scott Robertson. They will then introduce our two panelists. We will do a panel discussion asking questions of our one of them is a former apprentice, one is a current apprentice. And then Scott will share some resources from PIA, the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship. And then, we will do a Q&A and a closing. So, a lot to cover. So, I will kick it over to Randy to go from there.

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Randy Copeland, I’m a Program Analyst with the Office of Apprenticeship. I’ll be representing the Office today. I’m also a DEIA liaison and I’m very excited that we have these great speakers today. The Office of Apprenticeship is always looking to create more opportunities for inclusive apprenticeships. We want to foster great conversations today around this topic, so we will be utilizing our chat function in order to post questions, so please feel free to post questions throughout this webinar and we will hold till the end to actually respond to them. With that, I’m going to pass it over to Scott Robertson with ODEP. Thank you Randy. Good afternoon, I’m Scott Michael Robertson. I am a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Disability Employment Policy here in the U.S. Department of Labor, DOL. I am a white autistic man with blue eyes, brown hair, and glasses, and I’m wearing a blue shirt, and a dark jacket. And I would just like to highlight the project that is collaborating on this webinar today which is funded by us here at the Office of Disability Employment Policy. So the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship, or PIA for short, inclusiveapprenticeship.org. And we’re going to put be putting that in the chat.

PIA is a project funded here by ODEP that launched in 2020 to help ensure that all inclusive apprenticeship, are all apprenticeship programs are inclusive and accessible to diverse people with disabilities. And by disability, mean we mean different types of disabilities, cognitive, neurological, mental health, sensory, physical, mobility, every different type of disability you could imagine is a major focus priority for us here at the Office of Disability Employment Policy. And PIA works with intermediaries, employers, and apprenticeship programs to help meet employers’ talent pipeline needs. It also seeks to help enable people with disabilities to access the inclusive apprenticeship programs that can increase their opportunities for good jobs, which aligns very much with our priorities in the Good Jobs Initiative here at the U.S. Department of Labor, and access career pathways in what we emphasize are high-growth, high-demand fields. So while we do want to encourage apprenticeship opportunities of all different sorts, we are especially emphasizing apprenticeships in the high-growth areas, of such as information technology or IT, cybersecurity, healthcare, clean energy, financial services, and other growing areas here in the modern American economy, the digital economy.

And much of this work aligns with what we call Curb Cuts 3.0, which is connected here to this webinar for Black History Month, which builds upon if folks are familiar with curb cuts, which have a Universal Design emphasis. If you think of physical curb cuts for instance on the sidewalk that enable not only folks with disabilities to access walking pathways here in America and other countries worldwide, but also having universal impacts for folks say who have strollers, maybe wheeled suitcases, etc., that improve access for everybody. And we see the same way with that with digital accessibility and with accessibility and inclusivity for apprenticeship programs and other aspects of workforce development. And this is taking it to the next level in terms of the enhancements on inclusive apprenticeship programs to help empower full access in career pathways and achieve great benefits for what we believe are not only apprentices with disabilities, but as I say for all apprentices overall in their skills development and the knowledge and concepts that they gain that can help support their career paths. And so that’s why we cross-connected to Curb Cuts 3.0. And this work also aligns with the Think Tank that we ran in August that focused on Black Americans with Disabilities and enhancing inclusive access to apprenticeship programs in high-growth, high-demand areas and much of this work is cross-connected to engagement with Historically Black College and Universities, or HBCUs.

We had convened this Think Tank in on August 18th in conjunction with our sister Technical Assistance Center at ODEP, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology, or PEAT. And it discussed expanding inclusive and accessible apprenticeships for Black Americans with disabilities in high-growth, high-demand fields. And again supported the career, the key priorities of the administration for supporting diverse job seekers including Black Americans with disabilities and our commitment to intersectional equity. And it drove in our overarching goal to enable cross-industry thought leaders from around the United States to explore and brainstorm ideas for this key focus area and discuss policies and practices to support career advancement in these high-growth, high-demand fields for Black Americans with disabilities. And it also served to help develop action step to move action steps to move ideas into practice.

And a major takeaway centered on the offering support services to help enable Black Americans with disabilities to succeed in and complete inclusive apprenticeship programs. And participants also emphasize the effort to rewrite the narrative view, if you will, for job seekers that apprenticeships are not just for traditional trades, they are also for these high-growth, high-demand areas. And enable viable entry points to our pathways in what we call new collar high-growth, high-demand industries. And participants in the session also talked about partnering with as I say Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, for short and other minority serving institutions or MSIs, which we believe offers a win-win that should reflect real partnerships and not just performative action. And apprenticeships benefit HBCU students because they can attain necessary training to enter the workforce and earn money to help offset tuition and other costs related to living and quality of life and economic sustainability. And employers win because they enhance the diversity of their organizations. And so the PIA team is currently developing a spotlight page on the site, which will share resources for HBCUs and make the case to these schools that offering apprenticeship program helps prepare students for the win-win.

Now I would like to introduce Kristin, who’s one of our speakers today at this webinar. Kristin Strand is a Military Veteran, and Kristin does not have a disability. Our other speaker has a disability, but Kristin can speak about participation in the Apprenti Tech Apprenticeship program and how supports have helped empower access to support for advancing career pathway in cybersecurity. And that’s one of the reasons that we have a mix here today for our speakers of speaker without a disability, and a speaker with a disability. And we’ll be hearing from Kristin herself during the panel. And Apprenti is a leader in the world of apprenticeship intermediaries. Nearly 50% of their apprentices are Veterans, over 23% of their apprentices are Black, and over 15% of their apprentices have a disability. And the apprenticeship programs that Apprenti offers are in these high-growth, high-demand areas such as IT and cybersecurity, which make a real difference for underrepresented workers. There’s a major economic impact as far as gains in income improved income access that can be about 40,000 per year starting for folks coming out of apprenticeship in in apprenticeship programs and the average post-apprenticeship salary is often over $85,000. And the average lifetime earnings are in the 2 million dollar range 2.24 million dollars. And now, Randy will be introducing our other speaker.

Thank you, Scott. So now I’d like to introduce our our second speaker. It’ll be our guest panel, Nikcole Johnson. Nikcole Johnson stopped working after receiving a clinical diagnosis of mental health condition, and she is now participating in an apprenticeship program with Helix Opportunity. Helix Opportunity is a part of an organization that is doing inclusive apprenticeships and even the owner is very committed to this. At age 13, Helix Opportunities owner and founder David Fazio suffered from a softball size stroke, and after that, that left him paralyzed and blind in one eye. So experiencing that, he has worked hard to create an inclusive workforce where he can unlock the power of human inclusion. Helix Opportunities’ apprenticeship program strengthens companies’ diversity and includes and inclusion initiatives by ensuring a reliable inflow of highly skilled candidates. This is a unique apprenticeship program in that it is teaching people how to design accessible technology and there is a huge demand in both the public and private sector. I’m very excited to hear more from Nikcole about her experience within this apprenticeship program, and I think we will all learn a lot from her. At this time, can we have both panelists introduce themselves to the group?

Sure. Hi, yeah I’m Nikcole Johnson. I’m in Northern California. I have recently accepted an apprenticeship with UCSF or for Disability Accessibility Analysts Apprentice, so that’s where I’m at now, and it’s through Helix Opp, and I was able to receive the services through the Department, California Department of Rehabilitation.

Hi everyone, I’m Kristin, as got introduced. And I am currently working in cybersecurity. Like it was announced, I got my start in IT through the Apprenti Apprenticeship Program. Previously, before I started working in cybersecurity, I was a teacher for about six years. And I am also a Veteran currently serving in the Army Reserves and been doing that for in my 13th year now. And I did also graduate from a HBCU so all the things going on and I’m excited to be here and speaking to you all today. Thank you both.

Scott or Randy, would you like to tee up some questions for the two of them?

Sure. So, I guess we could, I could, go first on this and then I’ll pass over to, to Randy after.

Sure. First, Kristin, a question for you. Can you briefly share your background, your previous jobs, and why you pursued an apprenticeship in the field of accessible technology?

Yeah, sure. So like I already stated, I do have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Virginia State University, an HBCU, and I went there to be a teacher. I always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in the second grade. And so from there I did teach math in each grade from 5th through 12th for about six years and concurrently serving in the Reserves at the same time. And I wanted to pursue IT specifically cybersecurity for job security and also so that I can make more money, take care of my family. I also have three daughters so that was my initial reasoning for pursuing cybersecurity. Getting into IT from education to just have a better job as far as pay goes.

Great, thanks Kristin. I’ll pass it over to Randy now to ask a question.

Sure. Nikcole, could you please briefly share a little bit about your background with everyone? Information about the previous jobs you had, how it’s been working with your disability, and what made you pursue an apprenticeship in the field of accessible technology?

My prior experiences have been in like clerical support, administrative services, and healthcare. And then I worked for the Public Service government agency for 10 years. As a last few years of those were with an ombudsman for mental health and helping constituents get services and being the first contact for grievances when they weren’t able to get services. I had actually started left the state role and went to a private company agency to be a systems test analyst and I was there briefly, and then that’s when I started to have psychiatric problems. So I ended up quitting that and really trying to just figure out what was going on with me. So I’ve been out of the workforce for some time, for maybe six, seven years I’ve dibbled and dabbled. During that time, I had returned to school. Prior to that, I have a BA from University of Phoenix for Business Administration and I also have a Master’s in Business Intelligence. And so I, I’m me getting education and being open to learning. And lifelong learning is not anything that’s new to me and I’m open to it. And that’s one of the reasons why when I saw the opportunity to work with Helix Opp as an apprentice to learn or to continue on that journey as a tester in learning the software and getting into the technical field was I was really open to it. So that’s kind of where I’m how I ended up here and at a later time in life. You know, generally people might associate apprenticeships with younger adults. However, you know this is an opportunity when you’re open to anyone to enter into a new path of a career, and that’s why I’m really open to it, yeah.

Thank you so much for sharing that, Nikcole. Scott, did you want to ask the next question? Yeah, great. Thanks, Randy. So, Kristin, can you walk us through the various phases or stages of your Apprenti experience, so your experience with the Apprenti process and program? And that could include, for instance, phases or stages such as applying to the program, your experience with related technical instruction, the on-the-job learning/training, trying to shift planning for shifting over to full-time, work, etc., what those different parts of the program were like for you?

Sure, so I got connected with Apprenti through the Department of Labor. Like I said, I was interested in changing my career from education to IT and so I went to the Department of Labor and qualified as being underemployed and they connected me with a program in Delaware I think called Tech Works and then from there I got connected to Apprenti and I had to first do a skills assessment and you had to rank a certain you had to have a certain rank to I guess get put into classes and for them to contact you to go on to the next step. So, the skills assessment consisted of three parts. There was math, there was critical thinking, and then I can’t remember the last part. But there were three parts of the skills assessment. And so once you do that part, you’re kind of in a waiting game. Kind of seeing how you rank against other people and waiting to be contacted by the program. And so when they first contacted me, they presented me with an opportunity to do IT Help Desk, basically, support. And I was really interested in cybersecurity. So, I kind of waited. They presented it to me again, like you know, ‘We have IT, the Help Desk available. Do you want to take that?’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m waiting for cybersecurity.’ And so then when cybersecurity became available, you had to interview with a certain company to get put into the class and pretty much go into the training with Apprenti already having a job secured so you don’t have to worry about that part when your training is over.

So you interview with the company to make sure that they want to hire you, make sure that you’re a good fit for the company and then you start your training process. And so my training process was from about January to April. And in that time I attended class full-time from nine to five each day Monday through Friday. And also during that time, I learned and passed three cyber security certifications, Network Plus, Security Plus, and then CYSA Plus. And then from there, you know, you get your start date for your employer. And I started working for my current employer in June of 2021. And so I’m still there now coming up on two years. And the on-the-job training piece with Apprenti was for one year. So within that one year, you know you’re learning on the job, learning you know what to do your daily task and everything and the job decides when they want to promote you or you know if they want to keep you on, I should say. And so I started with my company in June and in October they decided to convert me from an apprentice to a full-time associate so even I was still in my on-the-job training window of one year, I was already operating as a regular associate in my job at that time, so. Yeah, that’s my experience.

Thank you for that, Kristin. Nikcole, similar what was it like in your experience trying to find the apprenticeship that you’re currently in?

Well, I didn’t initially wasn’t looking for an apprenticeship. I was looking for a full-time role or maybe a remote position. And like I said I had once I needed to return back into the workplace, I needed to actually partner with a support agency that was with the Department of Rehab. And then they connected me with an Employment Service Agency. So because we really had to work on identifying what areas that I was going to be interested in working in what was going to be more you know compatible to meet with my working with the new the new challenges or new things that I needed to make sure that I address. So as we’re looking at that and that’s been since maybe a year ago the email there was like an e-blast out for the Department of Rehab identifying letting people notifying people about the opportunity for the cohort with UC San Francisco. And that was in September. And it was really just submitting a little short brief interest letter. And then also your resume. And then I heard from them in December stating that they were interested in interviewing me and I did two rounds of interviews. And I was informed that I would be accepted to move on in the program. And so that’s what they’re right now, they’re working on completing the paperwork so that I can start and it will be an OJT, not just a pre-apprentice role will be OJT.

Perfect thank you for sharing. Scott?

Great, thanks Randy. So, I’m going to ask another question, question for Kristin. Kristin, which supports did the apprenticeship program offer that enabled you to complete it while working full-time, and how do those supports help drive your success in your apprenticeship program?

So, during the training part of the apprenticeship, I didn’t work. You actually, you know it was like a full-time job. So I was doing the training from nine to five but Apprenti in Delaware partnered with Goodwill, I believe, and we were able to get a small stipend during the time that we’re getting while we were in training so that was very helpful to you know continue on with my responsibilities that I had at the time. And then after that, once I started the on-the-job training, I was paid by the company that I was working for. So in terms of support through the apprenticeship I think those are like the good things you know that they made sure that they had in place so that though you’re changing your career they wanted to make sure that you still had the means to support yourself and provide for your family by making sure we had that stipend during training and then securing the payment. You know, basically, you’re employed with the company during your apprenticeship to get paid even though it was a smaller amount than what I would have gotten like if I joined regular, like as a regular employee. It was still enough to still support my family until I got promoted in the company. Also, I would say during training the way that they supported us was just by providing us with an instruction with an instructor who was very knowledgeable on you know the different certifications that we were studying for. Very supportive. And then the Apprenti team, whatever we needed as far as training. I know there was a time where we wanted to get some training materials from somebody on Udemy and the Apprenti team was really supportive and they you know pushed that request up the ranks and we were able to get the funding to purchase those items. So very supportive, receptive to our feedback and really just making sure we had everything that we needed to be successful, whatever it was. And it varied depending on the class and depending on what we were learning about.

Great, thank you, Kristin. And I will turn it over to Randy to ask another question of Nikcole. Thank you, Scott. Nikcole, a question I had was do you know what kind of work you’ll be doing within your apprenticeship, and could you also explain to the group why accessible apprenticeships are so important?

I always do that. Yeah sure. What I will be doing there I’ll be testing and building for assistive technology web pages in compliance to the web standards. Let me see, there were there was quite a few things and then they also wanted to have me do more kind of community outreach part informing people about the opportunities and accessibility and keeping up the web pages on the campus and that way oh and with that I’ll learn how to use the different type of software that the school uses and then also be working with professionals who have and content creators who have actually have the experience and in that field in that area. So, to me it’s a direct line it’s a greater path and that I’m not only just learning theoretically about the software, I will actually be applying it in real-life instances. And then that way I will have a you know at the end of the program or one year, I’ll have a reference, you know, I’ll have a good reference and that will open up more opportunities moving forward for me.

Perfect, thank you Nikcole. I’d like to ask one more, one additional question for Kristin. What have been the main benefits for you in switching from working as a teacher to a career in in cybersecurity now?

So I would say the main benefit for me is just flexibility with the job I do work completely remotely from home. The company that I work, for we don’t even have offices anywhere so that’s never an issue for me to have to worry about going into the office. So, definitely the flexibility of working from home. I can be even more present for my children. And I will also say the work culture is so much different as a teacher you know you work so hard for so little like physically. Even though it is rewarding in itself but you really do work hard with kind of little recognition. And I will say that the company that I work for we do work hard also and it’s as if everything that I do is very much appreciated. So, that’s a nice change of pace as well. But mostly just the flexibility, being able to be home, definitely feeling more technical savvy in a sense I always feel like I was good with technology as a teacher. And a lot of people I think came to me with questions about you know working technology that you need for education. But, just in an overall sense just understanding more about why I had to do certain things like cybersecurity awareness training every year and things like that I have a deeper understanding of the kind of behind the scenes of a lot of the technology things that I was used to using and I just understand them better, appreciate them more.

Thanks for that, Kristin. Another question for Nikcole, what kind of workplace accommodations has your apprenticeship made and supports in order to make sure that you are successful, and you can succeed in the program?

Yeah from what I’m understanding that I will be able to work 100% remote, so that’s definitely something I’m looking forward to. To the work-life balance. The what I’m not quite sure about what equipment I’ll be needing. But from what I’m understanding that any services or any equipment that I will be needing will be provided through the Department of Rehab as well as UCSF. So any accommodations or needs that I’ll have they will be addressed and that that you know I’m really glad about that as I move forward with this work to know that anything that I’ll need it will not be an issue it will be something that will resolve, you know. So that’s really positive for me.

Perfect. And as a follow-up to that question, I wanted to know what is it that you’re hoping to get out of your apprenticeship program, where do you think that this apprenticeship program will take your career trajectory once you’ve completed it?

Well, for me, I definitely hope that it will place me at a at a point of employment that I can long-term, you know be able to continue to earn a good have a good living so that I can travel. And just really the direct trajectory of my career I’m really not sure because I’ve had to be really open about some change in my life. But I believe that me getting in a place you know where I’m using the knowledges and experiences of business and the new technology experiences and also the actual experience of mental health and disabilities and how the co-occurring disorders. And that knowledge will play into my future employment you know. So that to me I think this is one of the stepping stone to that. So wherever it may lead me, I know at least that it’s going to bring all of it together and nothing will be in vain. Thank you for that.

Scott? Great, thanks, Randy. So. We have some questions in chat. So one of these questions for you, Kristin is from the chat right now. This question states, ‘Hi Kristin, What do you wish you had known before you had started on the apprenticeship journey?’

I think specifically for me I just wish I knew all the different opportunities that I could have gone for as far as apprenticeship goes. I was pretty set on cybersecurity at first because that was what I was most familiar with. Even the role that I currently do I didn’t even know that this was a job that existed. So just to have done I guess more research on what other types of apprenticeships were out there as far as topics because I would have loved to even waited longer to get a software engineering apprenticeship versus cybersecurity. I do love cybersecurity. I enjoy the job that I do for the most part, but I’m definitely interested in software engineering and coding. So I just wish I would have known that they had those apprenticeships out there also at the beginning.

Great, thanks Kristin. And I, I actually had a question for both of you. I wanted to know it’s very important for us in the employment and training field to know how we can further assist people it’s our job to create more opportunities for inclusive apprenticeships. What based off of your experiences, what would you say is things that we could do to better help people find these opportunities and help them get employment and training when they’re trying to find new career paths?

I honestly feel like it’s more publicized and readily available now even than it was two or three years ago when I was kind of looking into it. But definitely just using those outlets that everybody’s on all the time, social media. Maybe even a couple of ads. Kind of getting out there maybe in like when they’re having career days and job fairs and things like that, you know, usually you’re seeing an employer there but it will be nice to see somebody you know from an organization like yours just out with pamphlets or handouts or something you know saying you know we’re not necessarily a company, but we are an organization that can help you find your place. So, some things like that. I would think for me, I would say just it’s incredible that it is available it’s out there. Maybe there’s just not a lot of people that know about it or they make assumptions like you know if you think of apprenticeship you’ll think like you were saying that there’s some older trades. They may with disabilities, there may be some financial concerns with taking on an apprenticeship because you’re taking a lower pay cut. Or, you know, or they might assume that you’re not getting paid for it. I know those were the first kind of the first things I thought about. But I think about the short-term effects versus the longer-term reward on that or the return is way more you know. So, I think maybe just the education, letting people know how it’s going to benefit them you know if they are looking truly looking to be independent and provide stronger lives for themselves, then this is one of those avenues they can take.

Thank you for that. So, you both talked a lot about accessibility and access to the knowledge of the opportunities, but within that same frame, what have you found to be kind of the hurdles outside of just accessibility? What are the hurdles that you have come to find throughout the process?

I think one of the things that Nikcole touched on was you worry about your stability as far as you know are you going to get paid is it a paid opportunity how much are you going to get paid. You oftentimes, like she said, and like was true for me, you have to take a pay cut at the beginning. So, you worry about one of the hurdles I know that I had was just concerns over being able to still take care of my other responsibilities, which I think is a fear when you’re changing your career anyways. It’s like, am I making the right choice? You know, am I gonna get that raise that I’m looking for going this way? Is, is what I’m thinking about it even true? So, I do think that even though there are these hurdles out there that we deal with that we come in contact with, it still boils down to what Nikcole was saying, what you’re saying. Just the education. Letting us know and I’m saying us, just as job seekers, career changers, people out here looking for these opportunities. Letting us know these are the opportunities out here. Yes, sometimes you probably will have an unpaid, you know, it’s a possibility that you could have an unpaid apprenticeship. Or like even the time when I was in training, everybody’s training wasn’t paid you know. And then they don’t want you to work at the same time while you’re doing training because they want you to focus.

So those are real hurdles and, you know, we still have to live outside of trying to find a new job. We still have to take care of ourselves. So I just think really that’s the main one being able to still take care of yourself. Another one I know myself fully remote and Nikcole was saying she’s fully remote is having access to you know the technology that you need to even get the class done. Thankfully I had a computer. You know I had Wi-Fi. But everybody doesn’t have those things. And so also just so that leads me to saying like taking care of the person as a whole. And maybe not you have all the answers as your organization, but letting them know you know if you are needing connectivity if your new devices also having those resources available would I think also be an added help.

Thank you both so much for sharing your experience with everybody. I think we can all agree that hearing your personal stories is invaluable to us it gives a lot of people motivation and courage to pursue the workforce and pursue that next level. And from our end as the actual people doing the work we love the feedback, you know, you motivate us to find new ways to create more opportunities. Again, we would just like to thank you for sharing your experience. At time, I’ll pass it over to Scott who will share some additional peer resources.

Thank you. Yeah, thank you Randy. So and we have put up a slide here for resources from the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship, PIA, inclusiveapprenticeship.org. And these can all be found at that website inclusiveapprenticeship.org. And we’re also sharing links to these resources in the chat. These resources include a guide for recruiting and training apprentices with disabilities. A page listing the many financial benefits for employers that can come from inclusive apprenticeships, and advantages for employers. A practice brief about how Apprenti shifted to a virtual apprenticeship model during COVID. And how that is also these types of models continue to enhance how we deliver inclusive apprenticeships going forward in this modern digital economy. Our Equal Employment Opportunity Toolkit from the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship. And our Apprenticeship for All podcasts. Again, the links for these are in the chat. You can also access them, of course, by going to inclusiveapprenticeship.org.

Likewise, as I mentioned earlier in chat too, you can find many great resources as well at DOL’s Apprenticeship USA portal at apprenticeship.gov. So please do make use of those resources and you will find more resources at inclusiveapprenticeship.org and inclusive and apprenticeship.gov over time. Now we are going to be, I think, shifting to more Q&A from the chat. I hope I, I have that right, I’m not always good with going on the fly so hopefully, I’m doing this right. Do we have additional questions in in chat? And I think do we do we want to shift for Lauren for, for Randy handling this, or did we want to alternate?

I think Randy was handling this.

Sure, no problem, Scott. I can, I can go into the chat first, and I see we have Janelle Johnson has her hand up as well. So, Janelle, let me grab a question out of the chat and we will get to you shortly. So, from the chat, one of the questions that I see here is are from Delonte Johnson to everyone. And says, ‘As technology aggressively advances, what advice would you give to a young person who is looking for identity and career path? How will you sell the apprenticeship narrative to them as a possible option based off of your experience?’

So I actually I will take that question since it’s an apprenticeship related. And I would say, for a young person the, the narrative of letting them know that apprenticeship is the best experience is going to be more so in letting them know that there are options out there as we heard in this chat from both Kristin and Nikcole, once you have access to information and you know about these pathways you know about these salaries that you have access to, it makes it more reasonable. Most families traditionally in the United States have only been given one path, which was either well two paths, straight to the workforce or straight into higher education. Whereas apprenticeship serves as a way to combine both of these paths. Not only does apprenticeship provide employment from the moment that you start but it also creates career ladders where you can seek higher education throughout the time you’re doing your apprenticeship. I think it’s, it’s important for us as the Apprenticeship Office to continue to strive to get the information out there. Because the occupations, the employers, the interests the it’s all there. It’s just a matter of creating pipelines and creating an ecosystem where these youth can see that they have the opportunities to get these jobs. And they know that it exists. So that’s what I would say for that first one. And while it’s still fresh on my mind, Janelle, did you want to ask your question as well? Hopefully, you can hear me. Thank you so much for your excellent presentation today and for joining us for this great, great opportunity here. I just had one quick question about if you could share your perspective on how can we attract more talent from HBCUs into apprenticeships? Maybe give us maybe two strategies or something like that that you believe would help. And I’m really excited to see that we have HBCU graduates in this discussion.

Sure, Janelle, I’ll take that one as well. I know strategies that work well is that HBCUs are already creating a pipeline of well-educated ready for the workforce talent pools. So, a strategy that we’ve been taking is finding ways to create apprenticeship opportunities that match where their skill levels at. A lot of these HBCU students do not need intern-type opportunities where they’re doing you know base-level work making copies. They need apprenticeships that are going to further them to the careers that they went to school for. So it’s a matter of us working with organizations and working with employers to create those opportunities that will start them off and give them careers that will make them successful and take them to management mid-management positions that they you know went to school for. And from our end, engagement that that’s going to be our our second major topic. We have to engage we have to be present, as Kristin said, when these HBCUs have events, the Department of Labor and Office of Apprenticeship staff should be present. And we should engage to a level where we can we can know the needs of the students, the needs of the campus and we can work to fill those gaps.

Thank you for that. I’ll go back to the chat. Wayne Salter asked, ‘Is there a benefit of being a Veteran when going into an apprenticeship?’ Scott. Angela has her hand up.

Hi I’m I kind of introduced it I kind of answered in the chat already, but Wayne, first of all I’m going to introduce you to our Veterans colleagues at the Department of Labor who work in the Veterans Office. But there’s funding advantage advantages, training specific benefits, and as a Veteran you get first priority when it comes to what we do in employment and training as well. So we can talk to you specifically and contact you to the Veterans Office if you could send me if you put your email in the chat or send me a private email address that’s directly, we can direct you. And also for those I believe the program is called SkillsBridge or the Bridge Program. If you’re six months from leaving out of the military and transitioning, you can and go work as an apprentice and still get paid your regular your regular military check as well. So, as you transition out. But again, we do have apprentices programs for people who have who are already out of the pro, thank you Debby Hopkins, SkillBridge. And then that brings me to my final point, Randy and I’m gonna turn it back over to you. I see that Our fine industry intermediaries are on this call like Art Lujan and Anthony Tony Swoop from NABTU and some other industry intermediaries. And so just quickly and I have offered to introduce people as I see some people who are interested in specific jobs and industries. So we have 16 intermediaries in various Industries including health care, advanced manufacturing, construction, IT, cybersecurity just to name a few. Their job is to find apprentices and find employers for apprenticeship opportunities. 50%, these are contractors, 50% of the apprentices have to be from underrepresented populations including Vets, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented, underrepresented population. So I can, and Randy and I can connect you to those particular industry intermediaries. So I’m going to turn it back over to Randy or Scott. I hope I have answered the question. Thank you.

Thank you, Angela. At this time did, anyone have any specific questions they would like to ask to our guests on the panel?

Randy, this is Lauren. We had a question in the chat early on from somebody asking if either of our apprentices had to relocate for these programs. And I think both said that these were virtual, but please chime in and tell us a little bit more about your experience if these were hybrid, virtual programs.

Yeah, so for me, I didn’t have to relocate at all. Not for the training, not for my current role. I did everything remotely from home. I did have to switch companies in the middle of my apprenticeship and the first company that I was going to work for, I was going to have to go into the office. So, I was just going to say that it varies depending on your program and everything like that. But there are options out there that you will not have to relocate for. Now, for me I don’t. It’s in, I’m in San Francisco, it’s going to be 100% remote. However, Helix Opp does have I guess contracts with other companies that you may have to relocate. If you’re open to relocating you can get in a systems engineering role and but you would have to relocate for those.

Thank you to both of you. And I know I think Evelyn C had had a question about how to get involved in an apprenticeship program. And Angela had responded directly. I’m also going to drop in a link from our PIA website that just is information in general about those who are interested in pursuing apprenticeships. And that links to some of our intermediaries that we partner with and how to apply to their programs. I’ll drop that in the link in the chat. Scott, you have your hand up?

Yeah, I just wanted to mention by the way, thanks for the feedback that folks also are sharing in the chat on how much they have appreciated the discussions here in the webinar and for the thoughts folks who are sharing too in addition to the Q&A. It’s very much appreciated and as you can probably see in the chat that we’ve also posted a number of our email addresses especially for the us as DOL folks in case you would like to connect with us after the webinar. Randy would you mind going through this final connect with us slide real quick?

Yeah sure, no problem. So once again we have information from our PIA resources that we have, there’s email addresses. There’s also a resource library that PIA offers. There’s a registration link for PIA’s newsletter that they put out. PIA also puts out information regularly on their Twitter account and this is also PIA’s LinkedIn. For more information about work on the Office of Apprenticeship side, you can always visit our website on apprenticeship.gov. This website hosts all information on how to locate registered apprenticeship opportunities, how to connect with employer partners, how to connect with our apprenticeship representatives who are in every state. So, this will be your best resource if you have any desire to learn more about apprenticeship. Within our website we also have a diversity, equity, inclusion, & accessibility specific page. This page goes into the work that we are doing currently around DEIA efforts and how you can learn more about that as well.

Thank you, Randy. And just letting everyone know we’re going to drop a feedback assessment link into the chat. This will also be distributed after the event as well and like I said at the beginning this recording and the resources will be available on the event page by the end of this week. And I did see a question somebody asking about the email addresses that have been shared in this session if they could be shared with everyone via email I’ll talk to the group here about whether we can put some of those contact emails on the event page as well so that you can find everything in one spot. Let me drop that feedback link here. And if anybody has more questions, Randy or Scott, that you want to pose while I’m pasting that link in, please go ahead.

Yeah thanks, I’m trying to check cross check which ones we haven’t I don’t want to go through ones that we haven’t do we have to go should we go in the exact order or can I just pick ones that I just see that are of interest so far? I say just pick whatever you like. Okay, so there’s a good question that just popped in right now. Are there resources for career advancement for those seeking management or senior management positions, and how can that connect back to inclusive apprenticeship programs? And I could, feel free if our apprentices don’t want to answer or if Angela doesn’t want to answer I could answer.

No, no Scott, I’ll answer. I’ll answer. So, the answer is yes, we have senior-level management type of positions as well and in fact businesses when we go to try to sell apprenticeship we often say to businesses, ‘This is your way to do succession planning. to groom your managers as people are retiring now.’ So, it’s for all level jobs. And I’m so glad you asked that question because entry-level jobs I’m sorry, apprenticeship jobs are not just for people who have I’m sorry when you sought an apprenticeship program we don’t just want people with disabilities to do entry-level jobs. You all come in the door with skill sets walking in as well so we want to gain give you experience and give you opportunities to have manager types of jobs and to do succession planning as well, succession plan as well, with the managers. Thank you.

Yeah thanks, Angela. And just to add a little bit to that too from our perspective from the Office of Disability Employment Policy is career advancement and career pathways. Careers in addition to jobs is a major emphasis for us. Folks with disabilities for many years have emphasized that the focus historically has often been on just attaining a job and not necessary folks full career and their advancement too right is that folks with disabilities and folks from other diverse and underrepresented backgrounds want to have the opportunities to advance up in their careers just like anybody else. Not only to be retained in their agency organization but also to have that career advancement and that’s going to look differently for some folks after they come out of an apprenticeship program for instance, whether that leads to more technical skills enhancement, more management positions, for instance, in terms of opportunities for management positions for folks. Other ways to maybe mentor folks and pay it forward. So I think I’m a big believer to personalize and individualize what that experience means for folks to have full access inclusive access to career advancement after they transition from their apprenticeship program to gainful competitive integrated employment and have opportunities in their life to support their economic sustainability in concert with our principles of our Good Jobs Initiative here at the Department of Labor.

That’s an excellent question, there. We have also some other resources that have been shared including our social media, websites resources, and things like that they were just shared by Alex here in chat. I know that we’re running on toward the end of time here. So, I don’t know if we want to maybe move to a close here. And Randy would you like to close us out for the session today this webinar?

Sure, thank you. Sure, thank you so much. So, I would like to thank everyone for joining us this afternoon. I think you can all agree that our panelists have been excellent. Kristin and Nikcole, I want to thank you again for sharing your stories. We all very much appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule to provide us with that Insight. I also want to thank all of our participants for your insightful questions they were all very beneficial. And we’d like to take this time to thank ODEP as well for sharing all of their PIA resources. Office of Apprenticeship is glad to always help to work increase opportunities for inclusive apprenticeships. And we hope that moving forward we can put on more events like this to showcase how we can all partner together in order to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce. I also want to restate that this was recorded and you will you’ll be able to get access to this recording on ODEP’s website as well as the Office of Apprenticeships website.

I want to thank everyone again. You guys have a great afternoon.

Yeah and I just wanted to briefly say thank you myself too for everyone who joined today. And we especially appreciate our partnerships in collaboration with the Office of Apprenticeship to bring you webinars like this and other great initiatives in collaboration on advancing access to inclusive apprenticeship opportunities. And I hope that the information resources shared today and the perspectives and stories were really helpful for folks who are able to attend today and we will hopefully be sharing more events, resource information in the coming days. So stay tuned for other things in the future. And also again happy Black History Month. I’m glad that we’re very much able to commemorate Black History Month right now and create full career advancement through inclusive apprenticeships for Black Americans here in the United States. Thank you everybody and stay safe and well everybody. All right thank you so much bye-bye. Bye!