DOL Awards $1.9 Million to Increase Apprenticeship Opportunities for Youths and Adults with Disabilities


Desirée Patno is the CEO and President of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE). With almost three decades specializing in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem, she leads her executive team’s expertise of championing women’s economic growth and independence.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has recently announced that it has awarded a two-year, $1.9 million contract to Oakland, California’s Social Policy Research Associates, Inc. (SPRA) to improve apprenticeship opportunities for youths and adults with disabilities in high-growth industries. This follows the recent presidential Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeship in America.

The SPRA will use the funds to “research, develop, test, and evaluate innovative strategies in existing apprenticeship programs that provide skills training to people with disabilities,” the official press release reports. Efforts will be focused on improving the quality of “pre-apprenticeships” in industries experiencing high growth, such as information technology, healthcare and other emerging sectors.

“Apprenticeships are a proven strategy for connecting job creators with motivated, highly skilled workers, yet people with disabilities are disproportionately underrepresented in apprenticeship programs and in the workforce at large,” states Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Jennifer Sheehy in the press release. “This project will help us determine ways to ensure people with disabilities acquire the skills and credentials needed to obtain an in-demand position in a high-growth business or industry, where jobs pay family sustaining wages.”

This is a pivotal step in ensuring that adults with disabilities are given the opportunity to be a valued members of the workforce, and to utilize their unique skills and perspectives while increasing their financial independence and growth.

Read the official press release here.

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