Resources for Training and Apprenticeship Programs

The goal for women in apprenticeship programs is 40% … give or take.

Less than 40% constitutes “underutilization” as defined by recent changes in the EEO Standards for apprenticeship.

The Department of Labor’s new Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations for Registered Apprenticeship Programs (29 CFR Part 30) were created to help women, people of color and individuals with disabilities have greater access to and success in apprenticeship in the construction trades and other fields.

The new EEO Regulations require apprenticeship programs to conduct systematic and detailed analysis of groups in their recruitment area that have been historically excluded from apprenticeship (“underutilization”). A Quick Reference Guide is available here. For people of color, online tools have been developed to assist in these calculations. For people with disabilities, there is a national standard of 7% which programs will use to assess “whether or not impediments to equal opportunity exist.”

The final step in analysis of underutilization is a choice between two statistical methods, one of which is the 80% method. “Under the ‘80% method,’ if utilization is less than 80% of availability, it is considered significantly less.” While the actual demographic analysis tool is not yet on the Office of Apprenticeship website- Coming soon!- the 80% method is simple for calculating the goal for women.

Let’s do the math!

  • Calculate the number of individuals in the recruitment area who meet the program qualifications of minimum age and education level. (Remember that previous experience and skill level are NOT requirements to enter apprenticeship).
  • Calculate the percent of those who are eligible who are women = ~50% (may be higher as women generally have higher educational attainment levels).
  • Apply the 80% method: 80% of 50% = 40% 

Through application of “underutilization” and “availability in the relevant recruitment area” as standards for judging opportunity, the new EEO Regulations establish a goal of 40% (give or take) for women’s participation in apprenticeship programs.

Targeted outreach

There are specific targeted outreach, recruitment, and retention activities that apprenticeship programs must engage in if their programs are found to be underutilizing women and other demographic groups.  Those activities are:

  • Disseminating information to organizations serving women and underutilized groups regarding the nature of apprenticeship,
  • Advertising openings for apprenticeship opportunities in appropriate media,
  • Cooperating with local school boards and vocational education systems to develop and/or establish relationships with pre-apprenticeship programs,
  • Establishing linkage agreements or partnerships with pre-apprenticeship programs, community-based organizations, advocacy organizations, or other appropriate organizations.

Apprenticeship programs in the Massachusetts should establish linkage agreements with the premier diversity programs for construction in the area,  Building Pathways and Build A Life That Works,

In addition, advertising materials should include the pictures of working tradeswomen and include the phrase “ACTIVELY SEEKING WOMEN APPLICANTS.”

Resources for women apprentices and those seeking to enter apprenticeship

  • For individuals seeking these opportunities, PGTI partners with Building Pathways pre-apprenticeship Program and Build A Life That Works, the pipeline for women into the trades.  Review the Directory of Massachusetts union apprenticeship programs (2021) to find out more about the various programs available.
  • Current apprentices have the right to a workplace free from harassment, intimidation, discrimination and retaliation. Your apprentice program is required to display the EEO Pledge poster where you can see it. More information on your rights and how to get assistance if you have a complaint is available here.

If you feel you have been harassed during your apprenticeship or discriminated against during the hiring process, DOL has resources for you:


Massachusetts has a network of pre-apprenticeship programs that prepare workers from historically excluded communities for entrance into union apprenticeship. Contact Building Pathways, Inc. for more information.

Outreach to young women

Massachusetts Girls in Trades is a partnership of educational, governmental and union organizations with a shared goal of supporting and encouraging female career and technical education students and alumnae to pursue careers in the building trades. The group’s mission is to help female students in middle school and high school as well as recent high school graduates to learn about and start careers in high-paying, high-skilled careers in union construction trades. Contact MAGIT for more information or to support their mission and follow them on Facebook.

Model Programs

Examples of successful pre-apprenticeship and exploratory programs across North America are available here.