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Employment and Training Administration

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Equal Employment Opportunity

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is a powerful tool for growing the American economy and training its workforce. As the U.S. expands apprenticeship training nationally, a diverse workplace helps businesses access all our nation's talent. In 2016 the U.S. Department of Labor released updated equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations for Registered Apprenticeship programs to help businesses reach a larger and more diverse pool of workers. When all workers, including women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities, have the opportunity to become apprentices, we tap into our nation's full potential and open new career pathways for American workers.

Know the Basics

What are the goals of the updated apprenticeship EEO regulations?

The updated EEO regulations are designed to open more doors to apprenticeship for all workers, including women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. They will help employers and other apprenticeship sponsors build the skilled and diverse workforce needed to compete in the global economy. Communities will benefit from this proven model to develop talent pipelines for high-growth industries. The updates also support strong partnerships among industry, labor, education, and workforce organizations to design apprenticeship programs that provide highly-skilled workers for businesses and new opportunities for workers in jobs that pay well and advance their careers.

Why is the U.S. Department of Labor releasing new apprenticeship EEO regulations?

The updates reflect the workplace of the 21st century, modern approaches for increasing diversity and protecting against discrimination, and the need for businesses to access all of the nation's talent in order to thrive. The EEO regulations for apprenticeship were last published in 1978. Since that time, many aspects of the workplace have changed dramatically.

What are the major changes in the apprenticeship EEO regulations?

The previous regulations prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. The updated rule adds protected bases: disability, age, sexual orientation, and genetic information. It provides a set of common-sense strategies for outreach and retention to help employers and other apprenticeship sponsors increase workplace diversity. The updated rule streamlines responsibilities and provides more flexibility for Registered Apprenticeship sponsors to comply with the rule. The regulation also updates the avenues by which apprentices can ensure their rights. Registered Apprenticeship sponsors and employers have long been responsible for maintaining a workplace free from discrimination and for taking affirmative steps to support diversity by reaching a broader pool of applicants. The updated rule was developed with significant input from apprenticeship sponsors, businesses, labor, community-based organizations, journey-workers, and apprentices.

When do the updated apprenticeship EEO regulations go into effect?

The rule is effective 30 days after the date of publication, but allows for phased-in compliance beyond this period to provide a smooth and easy transition. For instance, sponsors will have 180 days after the publication of the rule to come into compliance with the new non-discrimination protections, and up to two years to come into compliance with obligations related to their Affirmative Action Programs (AAPs). During this time, the Office of Apprenticeship will be available to provide technical assistance to sponsors with questions about the new rule. More detailed information about the compliance timeline is available here.

View the Full Apprenticeship EEO FAQs

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