Explore how work-based learning opportunities like internships and apprenticeships can help you build a diverse pipeline of talent.
Work-based learning and pre-employment opportunities like internships and apprenticeships can provide paths to employment for people with disabilities and offer employers a way to build a talent pipeline of younger workers and others who are looking to join the workforce or explore new career fields.
Internships are programs offered by employers that offer on-the-job experience with work within the organization. Internships are available in many formats. Most internships are paid, and some provide college credit for students. Internships can also be an effective strategy for achieving disability diversity. In fact, research shows that employers who offer internships for people with disabilities are 4.5 times more likely to hire a person with a disability than those who do not. The U.S. Department of Labor provides additional information about internships, including information on how the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to Internship Programs.
All organizations have the opportunity to recruit and hire young talent by offering inclusive internships (PDF). Internships provide companies with an early opportunity to gauge the talents of a new generation of workers and establish the company as a great place for graduates to begin their careers. EARN offers factsheets on Maximizing the Internship Experience for Interns with Disabilities and Tips for Mentoring a Student Intern Who Has a Disability. Some innovative employers are also offering higher-level internships to assist employees in learning additional skills to better perform in their current role (known as “upskilling”).
Workforce Recruitment Program
The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a free resource managed by the Department of Labor and Department of Defense that connects federal agencies nationwide with qualified job candidates for temporary or permanent positions in a variety of fields. Applicants are highly motivated post-secondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workforce. Federal employers may search for WRP candidates at WRP.gov.
Apprenticeships are training programs that allow people to acquire skills, typically in trades or crafts. Apprenticeships generally combine on-the-job and classroom instruction to gain technical knowledge in a chosen field. You can learn more about the differences between internships and apprenticeships on Apprenticeship.gov. Learn more about inclusive apprenticeship programs on the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship's (PIA) website. PIA's website includes resources for employers and apprentices with disabilities, including information on becoming an apprentice and disclosing a disability and requesting accommodations.