Building Resilience: How Inclusive Apprenticeship Programs Are Responding to COVID-19

By Elise Gurney, Senior Policy Analyst

Work-based learning experiences – like apprenticeships, job shadowing, and internships – serve a vital role in helping youth with disabilities transition into the workforce. In particular, they allow youth to develop job skills, identify strengths and career interests, and build their resumes. Yet, just like school-based learning, work-based learning has faced significant disruptions due to COVID-19. While some work-based learning can be easily transitioned to an online format, other programs pose greater challenges. 

Apprenticeships are one area where states are grappling with how to continue providing opportunities for youth with disabilities. Apprenticeships include on-the-job training and related classroom instruction, and result in a portable and marketable credential. According to the DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Apprenticeship Inclusion Models (AIM) initiative, “building, scaling, and sustaining apprenticeship programs can be challenging under ordinary circumstances,” and the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced additional hardships. While some classroom components can be conducted remotely, many on-the-job training components can’t be – particularly for hands-on industries like manufacturing or construction. 

The AIM team is leading a webinar to discuss how apprenticeship stakeholders are responding to the current crisis and designing more resilient programs for the future. “Emerging Lessons for Inclusive Apprenticeship Programs Managing Through Crises and Beyond” is the latest installment of AIM’s Research Brief Series, and will feature experts in the inclusive apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship spaces. 

The webinar will be held on Wednesday, September 16, from 1pm to 2:30pm EDT. Register here: 

AIM is a collaboration between Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), Wheelhouse Group (Wheelhouse), and Jobs for the Future (JFF). To learn more about the AIM project, please visit the AIM website at