BOSTON, Nov. 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit driving transformation in the American workforce and education systems, today announced the launch of a new business pledge designed to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the U.S. apprenticeship system. The pledge will mobilize employers committed to making apprenticeship and job training more accessible to members of populations that have historically been underrepresented in certain industries, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, workers in rural communities, and individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system.
"Registered Apprenticeships work. The challenge we face today is making this effective model more inclusive and representative of every segment of the U.S. labor force, particularly for populations who have been historically excluded within specific occupations and industries," said Eric Seleznow, senior advisor and director of JFF's Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning. "This work is about driving employer demand to ensure that apprenticeships not only become more inclusive and reflective of the vast diversity of the American worker, but also lead to more equitable outcomes in job placement, advancement, wages, and hiring."
Despite growing interest in Registered Apprenticeship as an effective workforce development strategy, data continues to show that not all members of the workforce benefit from these programs equitably. Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force, but in 2020 they accounted for just 9.2 percent of all active apprentices, according to federal data. And while Black and Latinx workers and other people of color participate in apprenticeships at rates comparable to their respective shares of the overall workforce, their program completion rates are lower than those of white apprentices.
The new DEIA pledge seeks to not only increase representation in and access to high-quality Registered Apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers from diverse backgrounds, but also encourage employers to raise the bar for DEIA in hiring and recruitment practices. Employers who sign the pledge commit to a set of principles and practices. They agree to emphasize DEIA in their talent recruitment strategies, promote fair and equitable hiring practices, reach out to members of communities that are underrepresented in careers that offer opportunities for economic advancement, and set an example for their peers by encouraging other companies to sign the pledge.
"As our country continues to confront its long legacy of social inequality and injustice, employers must act with a renewed sense of urgency and purpose to break down barriers to high-quality employment and training opportunities for aspiring professionals of all backgrounds and identities," said Alexander Alonso, chief knowledge officer at SHRM. "This business pledge will serve as a rallying cry for employers who want to mobilize their talent and human capital development resources to effect change and build more equitable and inclusive workplaces—and a more equitable and inclusive country."
Since its founding in 2017, JFF's Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning has worked to advance apprenticeship and work-based learning programs in a wide range of industries through the development of effective public policy, innovative new programs, and dissemination of research and best practices. Equity in apprenticeship is a key area of focus for the Center as it works to connect diverse populations in the United States to high-growth career pathways in fields that pay family-sustaining wages. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded the Center $13 million to expand the country's capacity to offer diverse and inclusive Registered Apprenticeships.
About JFF: JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For nearly 40 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. www.jff.org.