Hiring and Retaining Apprentices with Disabilities

Every day, individuals with disabilities go to work as apprentices in all sectors of the economy, and businesses seek opportunities to increase and diversify their workforces to tap into all available talent. The apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations help individuals with disabilities succeed in Registered Apprenticeship programs and provide businesses and other sponsors the tools necessary to promote their inclusion.

Several tools and resources are available to provide:

  • Information on recruiting, hiring, training and retaining individuals with disabilities; and
  • Support for sponsors' invitations for voluntary disability disclosure
Man in wheelchair

What Do the Apprenticeship EEO Regulations Say about Individuals with Disabilities?

The regulations describe the responsibilities of apprenticeship program sponsors to ensure that apprentices and apprenticeship applicants with disabilities receive equal employment opportunity. For more information, read the EEO in RAPs for Individuals with Disabilities Quick Reference Guide.

  • Most important, sponsors may not discriminate against apprentices and applicants on the basis of disability and must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified persons where appropriate.
  • Sponsors must ensure that their outreach and recruitment efforts extend to all persons available for apprenticeship, including individuals with disabilities.
  • The regulations establish a national aspirational goal that 7 percent of a sponsor's apprentices, for each major occupational group within the apprenticeship program, are to be qualified individuals with disabilities. This goal is not a quota; sponsors must not base employment decisions on an individual's disability status, and sponsors are not in violation of the regulations merely for falling short of the goal. Rather, the goal serves as a benchmark against which sponsors measure their inclusion of people with disabilities in their apprenticeships and as a tool to determine whether, and where, their practices may set up roadblocks to equal employment opportunity for individuals with disabilities. The 7 percent goal, effective January 18, 2019, applies to apprenticeship sponsors that are required to maintain affirmative action programs.
  • To measure the rate of inclusion of individuals with disabilities, beginning in January 2019, all apprenticeship sponsors that are required to maintain an affirmative action program must invite applicants for apprenticeships, and current apprentices, to self-identify whether they have a disability. (Note: sponsors should not ask apprentices or applicants to identify their specific disability, just whether or not they have a disability. Additionally, apprentices and applicants may choose not to identify their disability and sponsors must not force individuals to do so.) Sponsors must use the Department of Labor-provided form for this purpose.
  • Any individual who believes he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of disability in an apprenticeship program has the right to file a written complaint with the agency that registered the apprenticeship program. Sponsors must notify apprentices and apprenticeship applicants of this right and of the procedures for filing complaints.
  • Compliance with the apprenticeship EEO non-discrimination requirements for individuals with disabilities will be assessed using the standards established in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title I .
  • Learn more about sponsors’ responsibilities for ensuring equal employment opportunity for apprentices with disabilities by reviewing the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship’s (PIA) Apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity Toolkit

The apprenticeship EEO regulations apply to apprenticeship sponsors that are registered with the federal Office of Apprenticeship (OA) and to apprenticeship sponsors that are registered with State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) that have enacted OA-approved language adopting the updated part 30 regulation.

Fact or Myth?

Still Have Questions?

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about topics like hiring individuals with disabilities, issuing an invitation to self-identify as an individual with a disability, and reasonable accommodations.