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Apprenticeship has proved itself to be an important tool for training the American workforce and growing the economy. But just like the rest of the workforce, apprenticeship programs can benefit from reaching a larger and more diverse pool of workers. As a result, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) recently released new equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations to apply to apprenticeship programs in the US.


Goals of the updated EEO regulations

The original EEO rules for apprenticeship published in 1978, and it’s no secret that the American workforce has changed drastically since then. In order to keep up with modern values of celebrating diversity and renouncing discrimination, the updated regulations strive to make apprenticeship more accessible to marginalized pools of applicants, such as minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities.

For example, today women make up almost half of the American workforce, yet they represent less that 10 percent of registered apprentices. In light of these statistics, apprenticeship programs aren’t allowing minorities and other marginalized groups realize their full talent potential. So, the goal of the updated EEO regulations is to provide all American workers with the opportunity to take part in programs that will develop their skills and set them up for success in careers that pay well.


What’s new?

When the first EEO rules for apprenticeship came out over 35 years ago, the regulations simply prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. At the time, these regulations were revolutionary in provided equal access to apprenticeship in the US. Today, the rules have been updated to provide the same protection and access to individuals regardless of age, sexual orientation, ability, and genetic information.

The updated rule makes it easier for both workers to ensure their rights and for employers (or apprenticeship sponsors) to comply with the regulations. Under the new regulations, the expectations of apprenticeship programs are much clearer when it comes to recruitment, hiring, and retention. Apprenticeship programs also now have access to technical assistance to help them reach their affirmative action goals, not to mention more flexibility in reaching those goals.


The new regulations will go into effect in July 2017, 180 days after the rule is published. For more information on how to comply with the new regulations, check out the ETA’s website here.

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