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Deborah Kobes, deputy director of JFF’s Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning, was featured in a recent Training Industry article about the need to improve the diversity of apprenticeship programs.
Participants in apprenticeships are predominantly white and male, and Kobes told Training Industry that apprenticeship providers need to adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals and make their programs more accessible to a wider cross-section of the population.
The article, titled “Equitable Apprenticeships: Pioneering a More Inclusive Future of Work,” went on to note that “embedding DEI in apprenticeships can be a challenge,” pointing out that recruiting a more diverse pool of participants is only the first step to making apprenticeship more equitable. Apprentices often need support to succeed in their programs—especially if they come from populations that that don’t make up a significant share of the workforce of the occupation they are being trained to enter. Kobes said one way to provide that support is by offering mentorship opportunities.
For people who are “vastly underrepresented” within an organization or industry, she said, “it’s hard to really see that you can succeed, because you don’t have examples of success around you.” Mentorship allows apprentices to connect with advocates who can help them navigate their career journeys.