- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded nearly $1.5 million in federal grants to four grantees to fund efforts to recruit, train, upskill and retain women for careers in a list of industries including infrastructure, manufacturing and cybersecurity.
- The Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grants will help grantees establish pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and nontraditional skills training programs for women. Grantees may also provide ongoing orientations on "creating a successful environment for women to succeed in the workplace," as well as support groups and networks to help women improve their retention in the workplace.
- DOL's four grantees are: Aroostook County Action Program, Chicago Women in Trades, Community Services Agency Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and Vermont Works for Women. The grants are administered by DOL's Women's Bureau and the Employment and Training Administration.
The grants are noteworthy as a continuation of the Trump administration's commitment to expand federally-funded apprenticeship opportunities and job training, but it's equally important to note the industries involved. Cybersecurity in particular has drawn attention from recruiting analysts; more women are reportedly open to venturing into the field than men, according to data by Enterprise Strategy Group, even as diversity and inclusion efforts have largely stalled across tech disciplines.
But it's precisely the slow introduction of women to careers in tech that can prove so prohibitive to D&I efforts in the first place. Offering apprenticeships and other means of entry into fields can help, and the WANTO grants may provide even more support toward accomplishing organizational D&I objectives.
Apprenticeship opportunity announcements appear to be trending in the U.S. Some companies, like Siemens, are modeling their U.S. programs on European processes. Others are working closely with educators to create programs in a variety of fields, like insurance, cybersecurity and finance. DOL recently touted the benefits of earn-while-you-learn opportunities in the food and beverage industry, too.
Workers may be buying into the trend: A majority of U.S. adults in a recent American Staffing Association survey believe apprenticeships are more valuable than a Bachelor's degree in terms of helping them land a job.
That said, DOL's grantees will likely need to address a set of problems specific to women that hinder their ability to participate in the workforce. Not the least of these issues is that U.S. women bear a disproportionate amount of uncompensated work, including childcare and other family caregiving, translating to the need for benefits that recognize the presence of increased stressors that can affect on-the-job presence.