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 Disability Program Navigator: Navigator Frequently Asked Questions 

26(Basic/Advanced)  What types of training and employment opportunities does apprenticeship offer and how can I help to ensure that apprenticeship is considered a viable option for people with disabilities? ?

(DPN Bi-Weekly FAQ 08-07-06 )

DOL-Partner FAQ(s)

The 2006 Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Leadership Series focused on learning more about other Department of Labor (DOL) programs, and took place from May through October 2006. Several FAQs will address these topics which were covered in the leadership series. The DOL-Partner FAQs will provide DPNs who were not able to participate in the audio conference series the opportunity to learn more about these programs and how they may collaborate to improve access for individuals with disabilities. The DOL-Partner FAQs may also serve as a summary for those DPNs who participated in the audio conference series to refer to for additional resources and strategies for building partnerships with DOL programs.

As a Disability Program Navigator (DPN) working with your One-Stop Career Center(s) to meet the needs of both the job seeker and the employer, you are well aware of the importance of the term ‘qualified’to both of these customers. Many job seekers are interested in training to build their skill set and meet the qualifications of jobs that are in demand, while employers are most concerned with finding qualified workers. Apprenticeship is one approach which connects job seekers looking to learn new skills with employers looking for qualified workers. Apprentices receive paid on-the-job learning and academic instruction that prepare them with the necessary skills needed to advance in their chosen field. The result, as the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship Training Labor and Employment Services points out, is workers with industry-driven training and employers with a competitive edge (Source: Fast Facts on Apprenticeship in the United States [ http://www.careeronestop.org/studentsandcareeradvisors/studentsandcareeradvisors.aspx ].

The Transition into Registered Apprenticeship Careers and Employment (TRACE) program, a unique apprenticeship initiative for job seekers with disabilities in New Mexico, created a manual on How to Develop a Registered Apprenticeship.  In this guide, the TRACE team explains that registered apprenticeship programs are held accountable for quality training standards, a minimum number of related instruction hours weekly, regular pay increases for the apprentice, and adequate supervision and safety of the apprentice. In addition to the training offered at the expense of the employer, apprenticeship programs often provide health, retirement and additional benefits. The apprentice receives national certification upon completion of the program, which is recognized in any state in the nation. To further understand the components of registered apprenticeship, consider the key elements listed below provided by Kenneth Lemberg, Training Representative from the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship Training Labor and Employment Services (OATLES):

  • Registered Apprenticeship is one of the few training approaches, public or private, in the United States that is driven directly by the demands of the industry.
  • Private and public sector industries and or organizations can become a sponsor of an Apprenticeship Program.
  • Apprenticeship Programs can be designed as time-based, competency-based, and or a combination of both.
  • Apprenticeship Programs are nationally recognized programs that provide high level certification and certificates that meet industry standards.
  • In addition to paid on-the-job learning, related instruction, and apprentice supervision, equal opportunity for those selected to participate in these training programs must be a key element of apprenticeship. 

As you can see from the information above, there are many benefits of apprenticeship programs. The TRACE Best Practices Manual for Developing Apprenticeships And Serving People with Disabilities emphasizes that apprenticeship should be considered a viable option for job seekers with disabilities. From the experiences of the TRACE team, many people with disabilities, especially those with learning disabilities, are very successful in apprenticeship programs because the learning style accommodates one on one instruction. Additionally, people with disabilities who learn visually and through real “hands-on” experience with materials can also benefit from apprenticeship training. Although apprenticeships are open to anyone interested in this type of training, a good job match is still essential to success. A job applicant must have motivation and a reasonable chance of success in the job, with or without an accommodation. Some accommodations that were provided to people with disabilities through the TRACE apprenticeship programs in New Mexico included readers to assist with the entry level tests required by some training programs, sign language interpreters, providing remedial instruction in math and reading to bring an applicant’s skills up to a higher level, assistive devices for reading materials, transportation to and from job site, specialized safety equipment and alternative scheduling to meet energy levels of apprentices. Below are several ways that DPNs can find out what apprenticeship opportunities are available in your state and local areas, in addition to resources on how you may be more involved in helping to develop apprenticeship opportunities for people with disabilities.

  • Ask your State DPN Lead to contact your state representative from the Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employer and Labor Services Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.  This representative may be able to present to all DPNs in your state on apprenticeship opportunities available in your state, and in particular for individuals with disabilities. (Link to contact information for state apprenticeship offices [ http://www.doleta.gov/OA/stateoffices.cfm ]
  • Find out from your state apprenticeship representative more about your State Apprenticeship Council, which exists in every state, and contact the Director of this council to get a list of existing registered apprenticeship programs in your state and local area.
  • Offer to be a resource to your state apprenticeship representative and State Apprenticeship Council on how more people with disabilities can enter into existing apprenticeship programs in your state, and/or how you may be able to assist in the development of apprenticeship training opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

  RESOURCES:

United States Department of Labor – Employment and Training Administration – Office of Apprenticeship E Tools
[ http://www.doleta.gov/oa/e-tools.cfm ]

The office of Apprenticeship’s E Tools page contains links to Registered Apprenticeship Brochures, Youth Development Apprenticeship information, Apprenticeship Fact Sheets and other general information about Apprenticeship opportunities.

United States Department of Labor – Employment and Training Administration – Office of Apprenticeship –Workforce 3 One Community of Practice
[ http://21stcenturyapprenticeship.workforce3one.org/page/home ]


Note to DPNs: If you have comments, suggestions or questions relating to the above topic, please email DJ Diamond at ddiamond@ndi-inc.org . They may be added to this FAQ and the archived one on the One-Stop Toolkit website.