Tool Kit Shows Apprenticeship Programs How to Advance Equity

Posted October 7, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Workforce professional reviews tool kit on equitable apprenticeship programs

A tool kit fund­ed in part by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion explores how appren­tice­ship pro­grams can pro­mote equi­table out­comes for youth and young adults who have been his­tor­i­cal­ly mar­gin­al­ized by edu­ca­tion and work­force sys­tems — espe­cial­ly young peo­ple of color.

Equi­ty in Youth Appren­tice­ship Pro­grams, pro­duced by the Nation­al Alliance for Part­ner­ships in Equi­ty (NAPE), says that appren­tice­ship pro­grams — which typ­i­cal­ly allow peo­ple to earn cre­den­tials and a pay­check while train­ing along­side skilled men­tors — can fos­ter equi­ty by:

  • expand­ing access to ser­vices for peo­ple in mar­gin­al­ized communities;
  • fos­ter­ing belong­ing for peo­ple of var­i­ous back­grounds and acknowl­edg­ing their con­tri­bu­tions to class­room learn­ing and the work­place; and
  • con­tin­u­al­ly improv­ing ser­vices to meet these pop­u­la­tions’ needs.

The pub­li­ca­tion — pro­duced as part of the Casey-fund­ed Part­ner­ship to Advance Youth Appren­tice­ship (PAYA) led by New Amer­i­ca — explains key con­cepts relat­ed to equi­ty, such as the dif­fer­ence between achiev­ing equi­table ver­sus equal out­comes. (Equi­ty is giv­ing every­one what they need to be suc­cess­ful, while equal­i­ty is treat­ing every­one the same, the pub­li­ca­tion says.) The tool kit also includes exer­cis­es for prac­ti­tion­ers that teach them about the chal­lenges peo­ple from mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties often face that hin­der their suc­cess — includ­ing lack­ing access to key tech­nol­o­gy or the funds need­ed to buy a work uniform.

Equi­ty must be cen­tral to all work­force devel­op­ment strate­gies serv­ing youth and young adults, espe­cial­ly as the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has changed so many young people’s lives,” says Alli­son Ger­ber, a senior asso­ciate at the Casey Foun­da­tion. Appren­tice­ship pro­grams and orga­ni­za­tions serv­ing youth should be adopt­ing an equi­ty lens when ana­lyz­ing their work and ensur­ing they are tak­ing steps to serve the needs of youth of all backgrounds.”

Key com­po­nents of an equi­table appren­tice­ship program

The tool kit dives more deeply into what it describes as the three key com­po­nents of an equi­table appren­tice­ship program.

Expand­ing access

Peo­ple from mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties often face bar­ri­ers to dis­cov­er­ing, enrolling and con­tin­u­ing in appren­tice­ship pro­grams. Lim­i­ta­tions span a wide range of issues — includ­ing lack of trans­porta­tion to jobs sites, costs asso­ci­at­ed with par­tic­i­pa­tion at work­places and inad­e­quate access to tech­nol­o­gy need­ed to participate.

The pub­li­ca­tion breaks down sev­er­al com­mon bar­ri­ers and offers ways to over­come them. For instance, to address trans­porta­tion issues, the pub­li­ca­tion rec­om­mends sev­er­al actions, includ­ing: coor­di­nat­ing car­pools; pro­vid­ing some par­tic­i­pants with bus pass­es; and peti­tion­ing pub­lic tran­sit agen­cies to add routes to jobs sites. For those who lack need­ed tools or tech­nol­o­gy to join a work­site, it rec­om­mends set­ting aside some funds to help par­tic­i­pants pur­chase these items.

Fos­ter­ing belonging

Pro­grams should work to fos­ter an equi­table learn­ing cul­ture where stu­dents’ con­tri­bu­tions are rec­og­nized and wel­comed in class­rooms and job sites regard­less of race, eth­nic­i­ty, dis­abil­i­ty, gen­der iden­ti­ty, sex, socio-eco­nom­ic sta­tus or the lan­guage they speak. To accom­plish this, the tool kit rec­om­mends, among oth­er things:

  • hir­ing staff of vary­ing back­grounds who share the expe­ri­ences and iden­ti­ties of a diverse array of participants;
  • ensur­ing that class­room learn­ing includes lessons about the con­tri­bu­tions of peo­ple from his­tor­i­cal­ly mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties; and
  • fos­ter­ing an atmos­phere in which every­one feels empow­ered, safe and com­mit­ted to the work regard­less of background.

Con­tin­u­ous­ly improving

Equi­ty work is nev­er com­plete and requires per­sis­tent action and reflec­tion, the tool kit says. It rec­om­mends pro­grams use an improve­ment frame­work devel­oped by NAPE that calls for:

  • build­ing a team to ana­lyze equi­ty issues with­in the pro­gram and rec­om­mend solutions;
  • review­ing research-based pub­li­ca­tions to bet­ter under­stand the root caus­es of disparities;
  • com­mu­ni­cat­ing direct­ly with par­tic­i­pants from mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing through inter­views, sur­veys and focus groups, to bet­ter under­stand their needs; and
  • ana­lyz­ing data to iden­ti­fy and con­tin­u­al­ly mon­i­tor gaps in out­comes between the major­i­ty pop­u­la­tion and par­tic­i­pants from mar­gin­al­ized communities.

Find resources on youth appren­tice­ship programs

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