According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up almost half of the labor force but represent only 7.1% of new enrollments in registered apprenticeship programs. Similarly, minorities show lower percentages entering apprenticeship programs than the overall workforce.
Recognizing that women and minorities continue to face substantial barriers to entry and completion of registered apprenticeships, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued new regulations in December 2016. Here’s a summary of the new requirements.
Apprenticeship programs will need to revise their policies and procedures related to nondiscrimination, equality employment opportunity and affirmative action following new regulations issued by the DOL in December 2016. An April article in Benefits Magazine by Jennifer Germaine articulated these new requirements.
Update to Nondiscrimination Pledges—Pledges typically appear in apprenticeship agreements, standards and notice of openings for the programs. The DOL added age, disability, sexual orientation and genetic information to categories in which discrimination is unlawful. Pledges need to be updated by July 17, 2017.
[Related Webcast: New Equal Opportunity Regulations for Apprenticeship Programs]
Update to Internal Procedures and Training for Equal Opportunity Standards—The final regulations implement additional procedures an apprenticeship program must use to monitor its nondiscrimination and equal opportunity standards. Again, program sponsors will have until July 17, 2017 to update these procedures.
Designate an Individual to Be Responsible—Sponsors will be required to designate an individual to be responsible and accountable for overseeing the development of an affirmative action program.
Develop Internal Procedures—Sponsors will also be required to develop internal procedures to communicate their obligations to apprentices, applicants, and individuals involved with the administration and operation of the program.
Update Outreach and Recruitment Efforts—Sponsors will be required to confirm that their outreach and recruitment efforts for apprentices extend to all persons available and qualified for apprenticeship within the sponsor’s recruitment area. Requirements include annually developing a list of recruiting sources that will generate referrals from all demographic groups, including women, minorities and individuals with disabilities, with contact information for each source.
Develop Nondiscrimination and Harassment Procedures and Required Training—Sponsors must develop and implement procedures to ensure that their apprentices are not harassed because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or genetic information. To accommodate these requirements, sponsors will be required to communicate to all individuals that harassing conduct will not be tolerated, provide training to all individuals connected with program administration, make all facilities and activities available without regard to protected classes, and establish and implement procedures for complaints.
[New! Online financial education course for apprentices—Financial Tools for the Trades: A Survival Guide for Apprentices]
Affirmative Action Restructuring—Sponsors should already have an affirmative action plan in place but will need to update their written plans to comply with new regulations. The affirmative action program must be in writing and include a utilization analysis and goal setting for race, sex and ethnicity; utilization analysis and goal setting for individuals with disabilities, targeted outreach recruitment and retention activities; and a formal review of their personnel processes.
The final regulations also provide additional changes, including more flexible selection procedures, and responsible time frames to follow if deficiencies are detected. Sponsors with questions are encouraged to review the DOL resources pertaining to the new regulations. A final rule FAQ list can be found here: https://www.doleta.gov/oa/eeo/pdf/FAQs.pdf.
Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst/Educational Program Specialist at the International Foundation
I am a member of a construction union and I have completed an apprenticeship program. We have always looked at applicants equally. The main reason there are fewer women and minorities is the lack of applicants from those groups. You can’t accept and train people that don’t apply.
Lately there has been a lot of news stories talking about unequal pay and benefits for women and minorities. That is something that does NOT exist in union jobs! We treat and pay everyone the same.
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