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Achieving Gender Equity in Apprenticeships in Colorado

Colorado is positioning itself as a national leader in apprenticeship programs. But to date, Colorado’s apprenticeships have largely failed to employ women. As a result, businesses are missing out on top talent and women are not connected to these high-growth, well-paying career pathways. Young Invincibles (YI) analyzed data on RAs in Colorado from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Registered Apprenticeship Partners Information Data System (RAPIDS); conducted focus groups with young women ages 16 to 34 in the Denver Metro Area to find out what they knew about, and wanted from, apprenticeship programs; and researched best practices for creating equitable apprenticeships from other states.
Top findings included:
  • Only 6% – or 317 – active Registered Apprentices (RAs) in CO are women
  • Among active female RAs, only 4% – or 14 women – are in what CO calls Tier 1 “Top Jobs” that pay a living wage for a family of three
  • But once in, CO women are more likely to complete an RA than men, with a 40% completion rate compared to 27% for male RAs
Policy recommendations:
  • Set a gender equity target to reach gender parity in apprenticeship participation in Colorado over the next 15 years. This would result in women holding 45 percent of apprenticeship positions by 2034.
  • Fund apprenticeship consultants with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to support businesses offering RAs in high-paying, traditionally male-dominated fields with recruiting and retaining female apprentices.
  • Release disaggregated data annually on who participates in RAs and non-registered apprenticeships in Colorado to track progress toward the state’s gender equity target.
  • Increase access to quality, affordable child care to support parents in apprenticeships and the workforce.
  • Employ best practices for recruiting women, like including salary information in all apprenticeship marketing materials and expanding partnerships with community-based organizations that work with women.

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