The Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations Act
In 1992, Congress determined that two of three new entrants into the job market would be women but that women faced serious barriers to taking up apprenticeable and nontraditional occupations. In addition, businesses needing assistance in recruiting, training, and retaining women in apprenticeable and nontraditional occupations had few resources available to them. Accordingly, to help prepare the business community to remove the barriers facing women and successfully integrate women into the work force, Congress passed the Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations Act (WANTO). Administered by the Department of Labor, WANTO was created to provide technical assistance to employers and labor unions to encourage the employment of women in apprenticeships and nontraditional occupations. WANTO states that it will achieve its purposes by:
- publicizing the availability of the technical assistance program to employers and labor unions;
- providing grants to community-based organizations to deliver technical assistance to employers and labor unions;
- authorizing the Department of Labor to serve as a liaison between employers, labor, and the community-based organizations that are providing technical assistance; and
- studying the barriers to the participation of women in apprenticeable and nontraditional occupations and developing recommendations to eliminate such barriers.
WANTO also directs the Secretary of Labor to conduct an outreach program to inform employers and labor unions of the availability of technical assistance for recruiting and training women for apprenticeships and nontraditional occupations. The Secretary is further directed to give priority to providing outreach to areas that have nontraditional training and employment programs that specifically target women.
The technical assistance to be provided through funds appropriated for WANTO are to include:
- outreach and orientation sessions to recruit women to an employer’s apprenticeships or nontraditional occupations;
- developing skills training appropriate to apprenticeships and nontraditional employment;
- providing assistance to employers and labor unions in creating work environments, support groups, and networks that will ensure the success of women recruited to fill apprenticeships and nontraditional occupations;
- establishing a computerized referral system that contains a list of tradeswoman available for open positions;
- establishing a liaison between tradeswoman and employers and labor unions to address gender-based workplace issues; and
- conducting exit interviews of tradeswoman in order to be able to evaluate their work experience and assess the effectiveness of the technical assistance program.
The Department of Labor provides grants to community-based organizations that wish to provide technical assistance to employers and labor unions. Under WANTO, priority is to be given to organizations that demonstrate experience in preparing woman for apprenticeable and nontraditional occupations and in helping the business community in preparing to place women in such occupations. Organizations to be given priority also include those whose employed staff or board members include tradeswomen or women in nontraditional occupations and those organizations that have experience providing technical assistance. The Department of Labor awarded $8.6 million in grants between 1994 and 2003. The 10 grants made in 2003 represented the final grants to be awarded by the program.
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