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.

Employment Education and Credential Model

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with a steady paycheck, making them an ideal solution for many Americans, including people with disabilities. Apprenticeship supports a proven pathway to middle- and high-skilled jobs but represents only 0.2 percent of the labor force in the United States (U.S.); substantially less than rates for other countries, such as Canada (2.2 percent), Britain (2.7 percent), and Germany (3.7 percent).

Work-based learning opportunities such as apprenticeships benefit all individuals in the workforce including individuals with disabilities. Research shows that students with disabilities who participate in apprenticeships experience significant benefits. Inclusive apprenticeships provide skills training to people with disabilities, such as peer-to-peer mentoring or job coaching. Over 40 million Americans live with a disability, therefore, when states develop and implement inclusive apprenticeships, they enable a significantly large portion of individuals to participate in the workforce.

States can help to promote and expand inclusive apprenticeships by:

      • Utilizing incentives to encourage pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships sponsors/programs to engage in inclusive apprenticeships;
      • Encouraging collaboration between state agencies, industry and apprenticeship intermediaries in developing inclusive apprenticeships and recruiting individuals with disabilities to take part;
      • Evaluating the participation of youth and young adults with disabilities (Y&YAD) in apprenticeship programs to use data-based decision-making to improve enrollment and retention;
      • Providing wraparound services and supports for apprentices and apprenticeship programs; and
      • State agencies acting as a model employer for Y&YAD apprentices.

CAPE-Youth is dedicated to expanding diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship. We are here to provide your state with personalized technical assistance and direct you to existing resources.



The Texas Youth Apprenticeship Partnership launched the Texas Youth Apprenticeship Steering Committee to build awareness and support for high-quality youth apprenticeship programs among state policymakers, agencies, industry and regional leaders. The Steering Committee is led by Educate Texas and the Texas Business Leadership Council. They are developing policy recommendations and a plan for a statewide youth apprenticeship system as part of a work-based learning strategy. The Steering Committee will also identify regional partnerships ready to implement youth apprenticeship programs in high demand, high growth industries, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, information technology (IT), energy and education.


The Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center in Virginia worked closely with the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board’s Valley 2 Virginia program to offer a manufacturing technician training pre-apprenticeship program for people with disabilities. This 16-week program allows students to learn manufacturing and workplace behavioral skills to prepare them for specialized apprenticeship programs across Virginia.


This CAPE-Youth brief offers strategies states can consider to promote and expand inclusive apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, as one approach to improving employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities.

This blog from The Council of State Governments provides an overview of strategies states are taking to make apprenticeships more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities, from incorporating voices from the disability community into apprenticeship planning discussions to targeting individuals with disabilities in apprenticeship recruitment efforts.

This resource from the Apprenticeship Inclusion Model provides strategies for funding inclusive apprenticeships, including identifying resources for recruitment outreach and supportive services; leveraging monetary and in-kind support from employers and other sources; implementing collaborative funding approaches; and supporting collaborative funding.

This guide from the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship provides guidance on recruiting and training apprentices with disabilities, including recruiting talent with disabilities, creating inclusive classroom instruction, and designing inclusive on-the-job training