Episode 141: Future of Work: Apprenticeships and Employing People With Disabilities

future of work - apprenticeships and employing people with disabilities

I don’t think I need to remind you that we are at an inflection point when it comes to employment and the available talent we have in the market. There are now more jobs than unemployed looking for work. Especially in the technology sector, there are not enough skilled workers to fill these highly technical roles and there won’t be for years, and I mean years, unless as employers we look at creative ways to skill up our existing workforce with apprenticeships.

Episode 141: Future of Work: Apprenticeships and Employing People with Disabilities with Jennifer Carlson

Jennifer Carlson is the executive director of the Washington Technology Industry Association (or WTIA) Workforce Institute and Apprenti. I am absolutely in love with the Apprenti program and how they are going about to help employers in the technology sector. This is a long-term strategy, however, it is one we absolutely need to not just consider, but embrace by leveraging programs like Jennifer’s.

Apprenti works with employers to create a formal yet flexible apprenticeship program for STEM workers. Apprenti is funded by the Department of Labor and offers employers a great way to tap into different and diverse talent. Apprenticeship candidates apply to be a part of the program by completing an assessment before they begin formal training and then are matched up with employers.

Tech Apprenticeship Program Specifics

Employers join the program and commit to hiring an apprentice for a 12-month period after the apprentice has completed their two- to five-month training. Some hiring companies have chosen to commit to a set number of apprentices as a way to build momentum for the program within their organization. Each apprenticeship is customized to a different occupational area and position group.

When it comes to compensation, the apprentice’s wage should be 60% of what the employer would typically pay an entry level individual in the position in which they are an apprentice, with an increase to 70% of that rate after 6 months. Apprenti has established a minimum level of compensation to ensure a living wage is provided. The minimum rate in King County in Washington state is $42,000 for most occupations; the minimum is $45,000 for Software Application Developer and Web Application Developer.

How Apprenticeships Help Employ People with Disabilities

An apprenticeship program like this helps provide opportunities to a more diverse set of candidates including those with disabilities. Doing so helps solve the long-term STEM staffing problem while simultaneously upskilling workers and promoting inclusiveness within the technical fields and positions as well as the larger employer organization as a whole. I think you can understand why I’m so excited about the Apprenti program and the work that Jennifer and her team are doing.

Upskilling and formal training programs are a great way to fill your talent funnel. You are changing someone’s life. The ripples will be felt beyond your P&L as part of the social enterprise movement that I’m seeing more and more companies become a part of. The job market continues to tighten for the foreseeable future which is why we need to get strategic and really look at long-term staffing and upskilling models.

Connect with Jennifer Carlson.


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. AvatarVivian says

    Hi, Jessica! I was looking for a transcript of this interview. Did I miss it? Thanks!

  2. AvatarSoji Joseph says

    I like to read your posts.. Apprenticeships improves and up skills one , and thus the companies helping more people to help with talent and providing opportunities…