May apprenticeship programs give a hiring preference to underrepresented populations (such as women or minorities) in their programs?

Equal Employment Opportunity

Sponsors are required to engage in outreach and recruitment activities designed to reach all demographic groups within the relevant recruitment area and need to ensure that their programs offer equal employment opportunities to all apprentices and applicants.  Further, sponsors required to maintain Affirmative Action Plans may need to set race, sex, ethnicity, or disability utilization goals – if they find that their programs underutilize any of these particular groups.  However, these goals are not quotas; they do not provide a sponsor with justification to extend a preference to any individual on the basis of a protected characteristic, nor do they permit sponsors to create set-asides for specific underrepresented groups. For example, the regulations make it clear that sponsors should notestablish separate ranking lists based on protected characteristics.

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