Inclusive apprenticeship programs—those that support and are designed to be inclusive of apprentices with disabilities—hold promise for improving long-term employment outcomes for participants. However, little is known about the prevalence and operations of inclusive apprenticeship programs. This report summarizes current information on experiences of people with disabilities in apprenticeship, drawing on the research literature, interviews with experts on inclusive apprenticeship, and administrative and survey data.
We discuss several key findings on inclusive apprenticeship:
- partnerships are essential to these programs’ success,
- inclusive apprenticeships employ specific strategies to supplement traditional occupational skills training,
- employers often need specialized training to support inclusive apprenticeship programs,
- apprentices themselves play a key role in crafting accommodations, and
- mentors and job coaches can support inclusive apprenticeship programs.
Inclusive apprenticeship programs benefit apprentices with and without disabilities through improved skill levels, increased earnings, and a sense of pride and accomplishment. These programs also benefit employers through reduced turnover, improved productivity, and a broader talent pipeline. We argue that these benefits are likely to outweigh any major program costs. Finally, our review of existing data on inclusive apprenticeship programs reveals that the prevalence of registered apprenticeship among people with disabilities is low, but increasing, and varies widely between states. We find that apprentices with a disability are more likely to be white and to be women than apprentices without a disability. They are also older, more likely to be veterans, and more likely to work in math and computer occupations. These findings help inform best practices for the expansion of inclusive apprenticeship and identify the knowledge gaps that still exist.