By Shauna Harman
There’s never been more pressure for companies to embrace diversity and inclusion in their workforce. Building an economy that works for all of us seems like it should be a no-brainer; woven into the fabric of our society is the idea that hard work and talent is enough to realize the American Dream.
But 2020 revealed threadbare patches in that fabric through the pandemic’s outsized impact on communities of color and the ongoing protests for racial justice. America’s business community is taking action and looking for ways to contribute to a more equitable economy, but many of us are finding it more challenging than expected.
This week is National Apprenticeship Week. In the past, Apprenticeship Week has been a nice nod to the great potential of work-based learning as an acknowledged career path and talent strategy. And that’s still important. But this year Apprenticeship Week holds an even deeper connection to our nation’s future. America’s eyes are wide open to the need for a more inclusive and equitable economy, and CareerWise believes that youth apprenticeship can play a significant role in it.
Apprenticeship provides career opportunities and post-secondary options for students of every community, but the benefits are especially pronounced for those who encounter traditional barriers to launching a career. The meaningful experience, paid wages, industry certifications and professional networks apprentices develop can propel them from the classroom to a corner office or from the workplace to a PhD.
Because employers are more attuned than ever to the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace, CareerWise is offering a service called Equity First. It’s an apprenticeship service for companies that want to specifically hire apprentices to help build a diverse pipeline and ensure that their workplace becomes more inclusive and equitable. Equity First apprenticeships deliver an applicant pool consisting primarily of students of color, and employers participate in extensive anti-bias and inclusion training with CareerWise, have access to any potential additional supports apprentices might need to thrive in the workplace, and are recognized as an #EquityFirst employer.
We hope that you’ll join us this National Apprenticeship Week in recognizing the promise that youth apprenticeship holds for every student—but especially for students of color—to access high-pay high-demand careers. You can join the conversation with the following hashtags: