Apprenticeship Inclusion Models (AIM): Expanding Career Pathways for People with Disabilities


Customer:U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment PolicyIcon for universal design and universal accessibility


Project Director:Vinz Koller, SPR ([email protected], 831-277-4726)

Project Lead:Josh Christianson, Ethos

Jessie Oettinger, SPR

What is AIM?

Apprenticeship Inclusion Models (AIM) is an initiative sponsored by the USDOL Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to research, develop, test, and evaluate innovative strategies in existing apprenticeship programs that provide skills training to people with disabilities. To do this, Social Policy Research Associates (SPR) and its partners Ethos Strategic Consulting (Ethos), and Jobs for the Future (JFF) will work with four selected apprenticeship programs to enhance practices, innovate supports, and expand pathways for people with disabilities into high-demand, well-paying careers.


Why AIM?

Apprenticeship programs are on the rise nationally due to their ability to more efficiently connect workers with the skills they need to secure and maintain good jobs in high-demand careers.

Because apprenticeship combines on-the job training and related classroom instruction with a steady paycheck, it offers an ideal solution for the 68 percent of Americans with disabilities who are job seeking[1] and are engaged in employment-related activities. These activities may include preparing for work and the job search, actively searching for jobs, currently participating in employment, or seeking to improve their employment situation.

Apprenticeship has the potential to solve a modern paradox, which has some job seekers sidelined even when demand for talent is high. Driven by the 2017 Executive Order[2] on Expanding Apprenticeships in America, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is committed to increasing opportunities for talent development in the workplace.

The AIM project is specifically focused on expanding access to inclusive apprenticeships for people with disabilities to reduce societal inequities by nurturing talent everywhere.


Our Approach

During a two-year period, these pilot sites will receive key training and technical assistance from the operating team to test new, innovative approaches to apprenticeship. AIM will also host a broader Community of Practice for interested practitioners and stakeholders to contribute to the learning community.

Throughout this process, AIM will collect data, identify lessons learned, and develop promising practices from both the selected sites and the Community of Practice. The project will yield key insights for employers and other organizations about how to implement and scale up inclusive apprenticeship as a model for supporting efforts to recruit, hire, and retain people with disabilities. AIM will also contribute insights, actionable practices, and models for inclusive apprenticeship to the on-going and robust national conversation on apprenticeship.


To Participate and Learn More

Work with selected pilot sites begins in spring of 2019, and a broader audience will also start participating in the Community of Practice. We encourage interested parties and organizations to join our Community of Practice by filling out this form.

You can also stay up-to-date on AIM’s progress by visiting




AIM Events



March 24, 2019 3:00pm-4:15pm

Columbia 6, Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington

As apprenticeships diversify, they also offer new talent development opportunities for people with disabilities (PWD). This panel will introduce a new DOL pilot project that is building a community of practice around inclusive apprenticeship models that recruit and hire people with disabilities. Panelists will offer practical strategies that workforce boards and their business and education partners can use to expand the diversity of apprenticeship programs. This session will also showcase learnings from an existing registered program where a WDB has partnered with a major employer to help PWD secure employment in manufacturing occupations with established career ladders.


Vinz Koller, Senior Strategist for Capacity Building, Workforce, Social Policy Research Associates, Oakland, CA


Daniel Bustillo, Director, Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP), New York, NY

Tom Hooper, Associate Vice President, JFF, Boston, MA

Debby Hopkins, Chief Workforce Officer and Program Director, Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, Charlottesville, VA

Carolyn Jones, MBA, CWDP, Senior Policy Advisor, Youth Team, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Department of Labor, Washington, DC