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

Client: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy

For more information contact: [email protected]

See here for AIM COVID-19 Resources:

Expanding Inclusive Apprenticeship Practices: AIM Webinar Series

AIM Briefing Paper Series

During these unprecedented times, many Americans, including people with disabilities, have experienced substantial disruptions to normal work routines and daily life activities in the community. While some employees have had to acclimate to increased telework and remote-based work activities, numerous other Americans have been furloughed or lost their jobs. Many apprenticeships and related work-based learning opportunities have been suspended. We have compiled a set of key resources to support your work and well-being and help you continue to advance inclusive apprenticeship programs that are accessible to youth and adults with disabilities.


What is apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential.


How do apprenticeships benefit job seekers?

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


How do apprenticeships benefit employers?

1. Access to wide pools of talent.
Registered apprenticeships—meaning those that meet certain national standards—attract a wider range of apprentice candidates seeking rewarding, long-term careers.

2. High retention rates.
Apprentices who get hired full-time tend to stay with the company that trained them longer than average tenure. For example at Newport News Shipbuilding, 80 percent of participants are still employed by the company 15 years after completing their apprenticeship.

3. Help with compliance and workplace inclusion goals.
Apprenticeship programs offer a pathway to fostering a diverse workforce inclusive of people with disabilities, veterans, women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. In particular, they can be a valuable tool for companies subject to regulations such as Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act for recruitment.

4. Cost-savings.
Registered apprentice salaries are 60% of market rate, offsetting your investment in on-the-job training. In some states/cities, there are also subsidies for the classroom training needed to get an apprentice job related certifications.

5. Flexibility and customization.
The registered apprenticeship model is rooted in flexibility. You can tailor the training needed to meet your company’s specific workforce needs.

6. Help is available to run your apprenticeship.
By working with registered apprenticeship partners of the federal and state Departments of Labor, or industry-focused workforce development organizations and intermediaries like AIM’s pilot sites, you benefit from hands-on recruitment and operational assistance.


What is AIM?

The Apprenticeship Inclusion Models (AIM) initiative was an effort to research, develop, test, and evaluate innovative strategies in existing apprenticeship programs that provide skills training to people with disabilities. The AIM initiative was specifically focused on expanding access to inclusive apprenticeships for people with disabilities to ensure equal participation by nurturing talent everywhere.

During a two-year period, the pilot sites received training and technical assistance from the operating team to test new, innovative approaches to apprenticeship. AIM also hosted a broader Community of Practice for interested practitioners and stakeholders.

AIM collected data, identified lessons learned, and enhanced promising practices from the selected sites and the Community of Practice. These activities supported AIM’s key goal of informing, shaping, and strengthening national policy around apprenticeship, workforce development, and employment.

The project yielded 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, retain, and advance people with disabilities. AIM also contributed insights, actionable practices, and models for inclusive apprenticeship to the ongoing and robust national dialogue on apprenticeship.


Who is behind AIM?

The AIM initiative was supported by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Together with Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), Wheelhouse Group (Wheelhouse), and Jobs for the Future (JFF), AIM guided four selected apprenticeship programs to enhance practices, innovative supports, and expand pathways for people with disabilities into high-demand, well-paying careers.

Amazon, Microsoft, the Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP), and the Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship Program (IMT) will run apprenticeship pilots that seek to enhance supports for fully including youth and adults with disabilities.


To Learn More

AIM Resource Library

The AIM Resource Library offers summaries and links to key tools for apprenticeships, inclusive work-based learning and training, and other related materials. It shares resources to help employers and related organizations implement and scale up inclusive apprenticeship as a model for supporting efforts to recruit, hire, retain, and advance people with disabilities. These resources come from government agencies, colleges and universities, advocacy organizations, and other stakeholder groups with a significant interest in advancing inclusive apprenticeship.

AIM Quarterly Newsletter

The AIM Quarterly Newsletter includes updates on any additions to the AIM Resource Library, information on upcoming AIM team presentations, and other exciting AIM news! Please check out past editions of the newsletter here:

AIM Webinars

The AIM project hosted six webinars over the course of two years. The webinars explored the AIM pilot intermediaries, strategies for developing inclusive apprenticeship, modern youth apprenticeship, funding strategies, universal design, and how to foster program resilience during crises.