Episode 398: Apprenticeship as a Pathway to Employment With David Fazio From Helix Opportunity

What I was learning is that apprenticeship is actually a much better pathway to employment than internship or anything else, because basically what you’re doing is you’re developing a kind of, sort of an employment plan, a pathway of progression for someone to enter into the workplace where they know exactly what they need to do, what’s going to happen as they complete certain kinds of competencies and move up in skill level. And there’s a lot of funding mechanisms around it as well. And, people with disabilities, while we’re, our employment rates are ticking up nowadays, just slightly, we are still largely relegated to positions that don’t make a lot of money.

Episode 398: Apprenticeship as a Pathway to Employment With David Fazio From Helix Opportunity


Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com, as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:02.07] This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of a podcast series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship, or PIA. PIA is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, or ODEP. In November of 2020, ODEP launched PIA to ensure all apprenticeship programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. PIA collaborates with employers and apprenticeship programs to help meet employer talent needs and enable people with disabilities to benefit from apprenticeships that increase their opportunities for access, lifelong access, to high-growth and high-demand jobs. Before I introduce today’s guest, I do want to hear from you. Please text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. We have been talking so much about apprenticeship programs, registered apprenticeship programs, what they mean, how they look like. But I want you to, to hear from this guest. He has so much experience, insight, and knowledge, and I think he is a huge asset to HR and TA leaders who are looking for information, resources, and ways to stand up their registered apprenticeship programs. Today, I’m joined by David Fazio. He’s the founder of Helix Opportunity, a disability-related business and organizational development consulting firm. His life’s work focuses on eliminating the unintentional stigmatization of individuals by their differences while providing meaningful experiences that everyone can share together, both in the workplace and consumer marketplace. David has created a revolutionary design methodology that seamlessly integrates the scientific fields of neuroplasticity and social psychology with the engineering fields of lean transformation, Six Sigma accessibility, and Universal Design. David is also a web accessibility invited expert for the World Wide Web Consortium W3c’s Accessibility Initiative. David, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

David Fazio: [00:03:17.58] Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:20.22] I want to jump into your background. Let’s talk about that and what led you to your current role as the founder of Helix Opportunity.

David Fazio: [00:03:28.08] Thank you. I guess it starts with my traumatic brain injury. At the age of 13, I had a hemorrhagic stroke that left me completely paralyzed on the entire left side of my body, blind in the left half of each eye, and unable to walk, talk or really do anything. I had to learn to live life all over again, those kinds of things. There’s a lot of misconception, however, that, you know, organizations or people might think that just because you have a disability that might make you an expert in disability rights or, you know, inclusion types of services or accessibility, that’s not really the case. So I was hired by the Air Force when I was a junior in college and quickly became, well, first I started out doing a lot of Lean Transformation work, Six Sigma, stuff like that, which gave me a background in kind of sort of research and, you know, design and reallocation of resources, streamlining things, stuff like that. But at the same time, I was doing a lot of union work, I became a federal union representative and started representing people with disabilities in discrimination cases against the government. And at some point, I realized that I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t think there’s any future in fighting with people. There is a need to find a common ground in a way to work together to achieve broad, bolder purposes and goals as opposed to, you know, fighting for, about differences. So I decided to start a company and move back to California. I was in the Midwest at the time and decided I wanted to start a company that at first focused on disability inclusion in the workplace.

David Fazio: [00:04:57.21] But then I started to get a lot of questions about the consumer marketplace. What does, you know, the consumer with a disability look like? How much money do we spend, you know? How can we reach this market? And I started to do a lot of research and this was about 15 years ago now. Wow. Yeah. And at the time, there wasn’t a whole lot of data around this economy and stuff like that. But come to find out, you know, the disability consumer is a huge, lucrative market all around the world, trillions of dollars in economic impact, and nobody was really paying attention to it. And the accessibility, while great, and is a need for people with disabilities, it can have the unintentional effect of stigmatizing people by the differences. I need to be able to access a computer or a device or a technology this way because I am this way as opposed to I enjoy doing this feature or having this kind of experience because it speaks to me or it is just the way that I want to receive it. And I decided that I needed to create some sort of company or methodology around these kinds of things and figure out a way to blend it all together so that people with disabilities weren’t being unintentionally stigmatized as different from other people, and that we could all share in the same kind of experiences together so we would have something to talk about. So we would have a common bond, so that things could work better without these kinds of sort of different perspectives. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:20.07] Absolutely. And thank you for sharing your, your story. I think that there, well, I know there are a lot of misconceptions around people with disabilities. That’s why, why you and I are having this conversation. But also, two, sometimes people think that because you have a disability, you can’t start a business, work in an organization. So it’s important, I think, to, to talk about how we got here and what we’re doing and how we can maybe help support workplaces and, and employees and HR leaders. I wanted to talk a little bit more about the apprenticeship program. Talk to us about what it is. It’s, it’s new and how we got started.

David Fazio: [00:07:06.06] Yes. So that’s one of the services that we offer. So, it started out of our STEM staffing program. We have a staffing program that places people with disabilities all around the country, all around the world, really, in science, technology, engineering, and math types of career fields. And it’s been incredibly successful. And what we do is, once we place a person with a disability in a job, we also provide them support services, ongoing support, for their first twelve months in the workplace. And this is something that is provided through resources that we have for vocational rehabilitation services and stuff like that. And what we do is we make sure that that employee has everything that they need to be successful in that workplace, whether it be an extra training in something, a micro certification, a new degree, you know, a computer or some kind of assistive technology, wardrobe expenses, so that they can come to work looking professional. The list is really infinite. But anyway, the point being is that, you know, this has been an incredibly successful effort on our part and program. I was learning a lot about apprenticeships through some coalitions that we’re involved in, in California for placing people with disabilities in employment and stuff like that. And what I was learning is that apprenticeship is actually a much better pathway to employment than internship or anything else, because basically what you’re doing is you’re developing a kind of, sort of, an employment plan, a pathway of progression for someone to enter into the workplace where they know exactly what they need to do, what’s going to happen as they complete certain kinds of competencies and move up in skill level and stuff like that.

David Fazio: [00:08:43.98] And there’s a lot of funding mechanisms around it as well. And people with disabilities, while we’re, our employment rates are ticking up nowadays just slightly, we are still largely relegated to positions that don’t make a lot of money. And digital accessibility profession is one of these professions that makes a lot of money and is incredibly expensive for companies to, to participate in, actually, because there’s so few people that are experts in digital accessibility that it drives up the cost. You know, you’re spending hundreds of thousands of or maybe even millions of dollars to get accessibility audits on websites. And very few websites are compliant with accessibility guidelines because of this. The cost to entry is a barrier for most companies. And the reason is, is there’s not enough people qualified and skilled to provide these services, so it’s too expensive. So we came up with this idea to drive down the cost of digital accessibility services by mass producing individuals with skills and skill sets in digital accessibility that can perform this type of work so that it’s, you know, so that it can be more pervasive. And so what we did and we decided to do is create an apprenticeship program that focuses on supporting people with disabilities that want to enter this career field. Why? Because having a disability is a key sort of differentiator and competitive advantage in this career field when it comes to testing products for people to make sure that people with disabilities can use them.

David Fazio: [00:10:14.67] And we’re not talking about products just for people with disabilities. We’re talking about all kinds of products, right? So, you’ve got accessibility guidelines and standards to go by and you can adhere to those standards and still have a product that is largely inaccessible to the disability community. And the only way that you know whether it is or it isn’t, is to have a person with a disability test it. Now we can dial this back to the earlier comment that I made about having a disability doesn’t make you an expert in accessibility. However, having a disability does make you an expert in knowing whether or not a person with a disability can use something. So these are two different things, right? One is built on standards, the other is built on, you know, basically interaction. So that’s what we’re talking about here. So anyway, our apprenticeship program focuses on skilling up people with disabilities in the United States and around the world in digital accessibility, getting them certified by the only organization in the world that offers recognized accessibility certifications, and that’s the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. And, once they go through the training, once they get certified by IAAP is the acronym, and then we place them in jobs or other types of positions where they can utilize these skills. So one of the interesting things that I’ve learned in our community and our industry about accessibility work is that, no matter how good the company, accessibility teams, teams that are devoted just to accessibility type of work are very, very small. So skilling somebody up in just accessibility alone isn’t going to be a great advantage to get a job really.

David Fazio: [00:11:54.01] What, what is happening, though, is a lot of these companies, they, they have their development teams, their core developers that are, you know, experts in HTML or Angular or other kinds of coding stacks and part of their time during the workday or workweek, 20% of it probably is devoted to accessibility work, while the bulk of their time is devoted to just regular, typical kinds of you know development and stuff like that. So what we’ve done is we’ve created a digital accessibility developer apprenticeship that’s built on the core foundations of developer, but skilled in accessibility, right? So you’ve got a developer that doesn’t just test products, but they can actually implement accessibility into this code that they develop for products and technologies and stuff like that. So what happens is they become sort of a stem cell that can fit into virtually any technology role in any kind of company that they go to. So that now you have this versatile employee that can do accessibility testing, they can do coding, they can do development work, they can do quality assurance, whatever the organization needs them to do. But now they have that capability to basically, you know, cross-functionality, which is something you learn in lean transformation at Six Sigma, that’s very important. That way, no matter what the skill is, where the revenue is coming from, you can always reallocate your resources to wherever they’re needed. Sorry. That was probably a nerdy, long-winded way of answering that question.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:24.30] No, I think that is great for, for people to be able to hear and how strategic you’re being in terms of,of the training. And, and you can tell from your background and your experience how you’re supporting the employees, the apprenticeships, and getting a really specific yet broad skill set that they can really plug in anywhere, but also helping organizations, because employees can be expensive. And if you can have one employee who is cross-trained in other areas, that is a, is a cost savings and a time savings. We think about all the shifts that have happened over the last couple quarters in terms of headcount and technology. You have somebody who’s multi-skilled that really can shift and move wherever the organization needs in that kind of development accessibility area.

David Fazio: [00:14:18.72] Thank you. Yeah, that’s right. And there’s a couple of things that I didn’t mention that I should have. So first of all, the staffing program, right? So this program is built around, so typically what happens with an apprenticeship program and this is what I learned as I was, you know, putting mine together, a company will come in and say, I have this job, this this job, this sort of role, okay, I have this role and I want to hire an apprentice for this role. And let’s say it’s a quality assurance engineer. So what they do is they create a quality assurance engineer apprenticeship and they bring in people for their company in this, in this quality assurance apprenticeship so that they can basically train them as they go on the job. And they start from year one and they go all the way to retirement or however long they want to stay at the company. So it’s kind of sort of a human resources recruiting kind of mechanism. Our apprenticeship is not that way. It is a nontraditional type of apprenticeship program in which we become more like a vocational training school. So we bring in a mass amount of apprentices with disabilities, we skill them up and we train them up in this career field. And then we basically find work for them with other companies and staff them out with, either as contingent labor, or they can stay with us and what we can do is put projects together for companies that want to participate in this apprenticeship program and utilize these apprentices and their skills for low cost accessibility work.

David Fazio: [00:15:43.93] Right? Because you wouldn’t charge the same amount of money for accessibility work for someone that is, you know, entry level or a novice or, you know, mid-level as you would as someone that’s senior level. So this also lowers the barrier to entry and provides multiple ways for companies to get accessibility work done for them. You know, they can, they can either hire them directly to be their employee or they still get the support from us on the vocational side to make sure that employee needs are met, the employer’s needs are met, and that it’s a successful transition and transfer of knowledge and employment skills. Or they can just say, Hey, we want to get some of this work done and we would like to utilize the apprentices, because it’s a much more cost effective way for us to do it. And you’re the experts. You can handle it. You know what they need to do. You know how to supervise them. And you can make sure that they do the right kind of quality work for us. So there’s a couple of ways that companies can participate in this, and every single way they participate, those apprentices get that 12 months of support from our organization to make sure that they’re, you know, doing their job well, that they have everything that they need and that it’s a, you know, a successful relationship.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:16:52.21] I think this is even more interesting because it’s kind of project based experience through the apprenticeship program. So they potentially could be working with multiple clients. But also as the business, as I was saying, you don’t have to bring in a full headcount. You have somebody coming in, they have a very specific job, they have their very specific skills. And then when the project is over, what happens to, to those individuals? Do they move on to other projects?

David Fazio: [00:17:26.11] Yes, that’s, that’s the goal. I mean, we can’t always guarantee it, but that’s the goal, right? No matter what the goal is full time permanent employment, whether it’s with my organization, Helix Opportunity or whether it’s with another organization, it doesn’t matter where they get the work so long as they’re getting the work, right? And so the goal is to make sure that this individual is economically self-sufficient for the rest of their life and has permanent employment. And, and we’re not discriminatory in who that employment goes with, right? And just by discriminatory, I mean, we’re not biased. We’re not like we’re not saying, hey, we would rather have it or we would rather you have it. You know, we’re, we’re very open to whatever possibilities there may be. And, you know, and it’s supported by the Department of Labor. It’s not that they’re funding it, but I’m saying it’s in theory and in, in spirit, it’s supported by the Department of Labor, by the vocational rehabilitation system, those kinds of things, you know.  So, yeah, that’s pretty much how we run it, you know?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:23.99]  I think, I think this Is fantastic for, for so many different reasons.

David Fazio: [00:18:27.71] Yeah. And the idea of getting this sort of kind of varied experience with different companies is very, very, very advantageous to the portfolio of these apprentices with disabilities, because if you work for an academic institution or an NGO and a Google or a Facebook or a McDonald’s or, you know, all these different kinds of companies, then you’ve got this resume that just makes you such a commodity in such a competitive world right now, right? Because you’ve done all these different things and, you know, all these different pockets. So you can basically meet an employer’s needs anywhere that they’re at, right? You meet the employer where they’re at, instead of asking the employer to accept you where you’re at.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:09.29] This is great. Can, can you tell us maybe a little bit more about how the apprenticeship program is helping participants? Do you have any, any stories you can share about how it is it’s changing their life because a skill and a training like this, especially when so many people with disabilities are underemployed or unemployed, to go to such a highly, I think, in-demand skill can really impact not just their life, but their family. Do you have any of those kind of stories to share?

David Fazio: [00:19:40.74] Yeah, I guess I do. You know, so, just because you have a disability doesn’t mean, you know, disability rights, right? And I’m not talking about expertise. Again, what I’m saying is it doesn’t mean you’re aware, right? You’re not necessarily aware of what your rights are in this law or that law. You may not be aware of what assistive technology is or isn’t. You may not even know accessibility exists. In our current class and that’s kind of sort of the thing we’ve got several individuals that I wouldn’t, I don’t want to say they’re not young, but they’re not spring chickens, right. You know, so they’ve been around the workforce a while and, you know, they’ve done certain things and they’ve had their disabilities and this and that, and they’ve fallen out of the workforce. Now they’re coming back in and times have changed. They may have been, you know, highly sought after engineers in, you know, prior decades or whatever. But now things have changed so much that they don’t know where to begin and they’re just learning, oh, accessibility is a career field. Well, I can do something with this. I can marry my previous experience with this kind of sort of new modern era of work. And I can become, you know, something that I really want to be and get a really good paying job and get back into the workforce and back into the technology industry in really sort of a powerful kind of empowering way. And that’s what we’re finding right now with several of our apprentices that are in training and that’ll be completing their course within the next month and a half or so.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:03.42] That’s fantastic, because in my mind I was thinking like, you know, you, and this is an incorrect assumption, obviously, but somebody young or inexperienced going into an apprenticeship program. But it sounds like all ages and experiences and backgrounds are welcome to go through the program that you have and they can benefit in different ways.

David Fazio: [00:21:27.34] Yeah. And this is kind of sort of also the difference between an internship and an apprenticeship, right? So, internship is either for college graduates or people that are still in college, which means relatively young individuals. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of young individuals that are interested in this because they’re more aware of what accessibility is, because it’s kind of sort of a modern era kind of thing. But, with apprenticeships, you run the gamut, the spectrum of people that are re-entering the workforce, people that are just entering the workforce and those kinds of things. And you can really get a nice sort of a mixture of different kinds of skill sets and experiences and, and maturity levels and mindsets, right? And that’s really important.

Break: [00:22:10.07] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you are listening to the Workology Podcast. Today we are talking with David Fazio of Helix Opportunity. This podcast is so good, so far. And I would say if you are looking for resources on setting up your registered apprenticeship program, David is your go-to. This podcast is part of a podcast series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship or PIA. The Workology Podcast is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. I want to hear from you. You can text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you.

Break: [00:22:57.11] This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of a new podcast series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship, or PIA. PIA is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, ODEP. ODEP launched PIA to ensure all apprenticeship programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. PIA collaborates with employers and apprenticeship programs to help meet employer talent needs and enable people with disabilities to benefit from apprenticeships that increase their opportunities for lifelong access to high-growth, high-demand jobs.

How to Apply to the Helix Opportunity’s Digital Accessibility Developer Program


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:34.35] This is, to me, just sounds, such an innovative apprenticeship program, but like thinking about, like maybe the bigger picture for you, what are your goals and expectations for the program, short-term, and long-term?

David Fazio: [00:23:50.25] Short term, we expect to retain, to place 90, 90% of our apprentices in, at other employers to work. Long term, we, we expect to be churning out four classes a year of at least 20 apprentices. So that’s 80 qualified candidates in digital accessibility a year. And this is a very reasonable goal for, that we believe we can accomplish. We have the funding mechanisms to do it. So none of these apprentices, you know, pay for their training or anything like that. It’s all covered by the vocational rehabilitation system. The only thing we have to kind of sort of work on is making sure that there’s available opportunities for work for them once they graduate the program. Well, not graduate the program, but once they complete the classroom training. They require one year of on-the-job training after that to complete the actual apprenticeship program. But, you know, that’s, that’s kind of sort of where we’re at right now. And we expect to be able to deliver that within next year.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:51.82] Fantastic. So what about apprentices? How can they apply to participate and what does the application process look like for them?

David Fazio: [00:24:59.77] So, when we accept an apprentice, we typically require them to have some kind of background in coding, whether it’s a six-month, you know, boot coding boot camp or degree in electrical engineering or computer science or something to that effect. But we believe that it would be disadvantageous for them to enter into this program with not knowing anything about coding at all. And it’s easy for them to get that knowledge and that experience. They don’t have to pay for it because if you’re a person with a disability in just about any country in the world, you have a vocational rehabilitation system available to you that will cover your cost for education. So to learn trades and skills that will lead to employment. So nobody has to worry about that. And I would say contact your local vocational rehabilitation agency, your state agency, let them know you’re interested in Helix Opportunity’s Digital Accessibility Developer program. We can work with any state in the country. All states have their own vocational rehabilitation agency system, but this is the way that we make sure that it’s sustainable. We make sure that we can provide the best service and all the opportunities that are needed and that the candidates and the apprentices don’t have to worry about anything whatsoever.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:14.74] This is great. And, and I want people to understand this. You’re talking about the United States, but this is a global change that is happening. We’re doing this podcast interview and you’re in, I think, Macedonia, right? You’re, you’re making change in so many different places, in so many different ways, which is, I think, really amazing and exciting in terms of the future of accessibility and where we’re headed.

David Fazio: [00:26:41.17] Yeah, it’s funny you mentioned that. We were just at a lunch with some, I’m a part of this cooperation on science and technology. It’s an EU-funded initiative and ours is, our action they call it, our initiative is about advancing social inclusion for people with autism and intellectual disabilities through technology and empowerment. So we’ve got people from all over Europe and we were just talking about this apprenticeship program. And, you know, there’s a lot of academics, people from different universities, professors, and deans and stuff like this, administrators and a couple of them were talking to me, some from Portugal, some from Macedonia. And they’re saying, oh, you know, we couldn’t, we couldn’t afford to, you know, send somebody to this or whatever. And I explained to them, you don’t, they don’t have to pay for it. The university doesn’t have to pay for it. There’s a vocational rehabilitation system in just about every country in the world. That’s who pays for it. And they didn’t, they didn’t know that. So seriously? Is there one in my country? Is there one in Portugal? Is there one in North Macedonia? Is there one in Ireland? And right there off the bat, I looked it up online. Yes, there is. Yes, there is. Yes, there is. And they were just like, oh, wow, you know? So now they want to contact the vocational rehabilitation system and say, we want our people with disabilities to attend this program. And the other thing is as well, is that you’ve got companies that are global that are looking to facilitate disability inclusion, not just in the United States, not just in their state, but in every region of the world that they have offices. Well, what better way to do it than in digital accessibility, making sure that their products are globally accessible to their clients by doing their accessibility work on a global regional basis. So if you’ve got operations in Portugal or you’ve got operations in Eastern Europe or whatever, then why not have accessibility professionals in that region doing that kind of work?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:28.42] And I feel like, if you’re a tech company, you probably have a hub somewhere in, in Europe and in general just for time zone and customer support. And you can be working 24 hours a day. So take advantage of these resources that are, that are in existence for employees. One of the things I wanted to make sure to ask you, because you can have an apprenticeship, anybody can have an apprenticeship program, but a registered apprenticeship program is a little bit different. Can you talk us through maybe some benefits for organizations if they or how they would establish a registered apprenticeship program? What does that look like?

David Fazio: [00:29:13.12] Yeah. So registered apprenticeship programs are pretty daunting at the beginning. It’s, it’s a lot of kind of sort of organization and, and prep work. But, fortunately in the United States and other countries have this as well, but we’re going to talk about the U.S. So in the United States, every state and I believe every major metropolitan area in every state, has a Department of Labor representative for apprenticeship programs that is at your disposal to help, to work with you on crafting your, your, your apprenticeship program and to get it ready for it to be submitted to the Department of Labor. In my region in San Francisco, it was a man by the name of Harry Dispensa and his boss, Doug Howell. And they worked with me very closely to make sure that my apprenticeship program met the requirements of the United States Department of Labor, which are very stringent requirements, which is a good thing, because that way you know that there’s a nice, good tight structure around what you’re doing and the kind of sort of training you’re providing to these candidates and the, the employers can count on that, that they’re getting quality trained, you know, employees at their disposal type of thing. Right? So I would say the important thing is to work with your local representative and the Department of Labor.

David Fazio: [00:30:26.39] They can help walk you through it, put together a training plan, put together a work process schedule. You need to know, how many hours of training do I think is going to be required for this field? What should that training look like? What are the different kinds of subjects that are going to make someone skilled enough to perform this work? And then while they’re performing these, this work, what are the major sort of skills or activities that they’re going to need to master in that first year or 2 or 3? Now, my apprenticeship is kind of sort of a lightning-fast one that goes by in 12 months. But a lot of these are two, three-year apprenticeship programs. And, you know, for building trades or, you know, some kinds of, some kinds of mechanical engineering fields and stuff like that. So you need to kind of sort of think that through and the Department of Labor can help you with that. But there’s also a lot of templates that you can rely on because, you know, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can just take an apprenticeship program that is already in the system, take a look at it, and maybe use it as a baseline and craft your apprenticeship around it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:29.51] I love that. Well, thank you for sharing your so much knowledge and expertise. I’m going to link to your LinkedIn if people want to connect to talk more as well as more information about Helix opportunity and then some information on registered apprentices and the technical centers of excellence. So do you have any last maybe words or thoughts to, to leave us with in terms of the future of apprenticeships like, like yours.

David Fazio: [00:31:59.82] But the future of apprenticeships like mine, not about the future of them, but about the future of mine?

David Fazio: [00:32:03.94] I would just like to say to all of the organizations listening that if you want to really ramp up your operations in digital accessibility in an economically sustainable way and really make an impact, then this is something that you want to take advantage of. You want to be a part of our digital accessibility Developer apprenticeship program. Again, we’re the only one in the United States that offers an apprenticeship program registered by the Department of Labor. And, you know, it’s a really great way to get a lot of accessibility work done in your organization and to really make an impact and a dent in digital accessibility for your products, environments, and services. And there’s multiple ways that you can, you know, engage in this, whether it’s through contingent labor or project-based operations. Please feel free to reach out to me to find out more. And you know, we can go from there.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:32:53.48] Awesome. Well, David, thank you again so much for taking the time to chat with us all the way across the world.

David Fazio: [00:32:59.42] It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Closing: [00:33:01.34] This is such an important area to focus on for HR professionals. I feel like talent development, skill building, and diversity are things we need more of, especially given the current talent marketplace and the skills gap in so many different industries. Apprenticeships, specifically those that are inclusive and accessible like David’s, are key to growing the workforce of the future. For our HR audience, please check out the show notes for this episode, including resources and links on registered apprenticeships. Reach out to David directly if you have questions about setting up your apprenticeship program. I do appreciate David for sharing his expertise with us today. The Workology Podcast is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. These are two training programs and courses that Workology offers. The series sponsor of this podcast is PIA, and I really appreciate their support. Before I leave you today, I do want to hear from you. Text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen in and chat with us today here at the Workology Podcast. I hope that you have a fantastic day. 

Connect with David Fazio.



– David Fazio on LinkedIn

– Helix Opportunity

– Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship

– Registered Apprenticeship (RA) Technical Assistance (TA) Centers of Excellence 

– International Association of Accessibility Professionals 

– Episode 394: How Accommodations Benefit Everyone in the Organization With Emma Maclean & Marie Trudelle

– Episode 390: Enhancing the Workplace With Neurodiversity With Dr. Scott Robertson, ODEP

– Episode 377: The Importance of Creating Inclusive Apprenticeships for Veterans With Kristin Strand

– Episode 373: Apprenticeships as a Way of Eradicating Poverty With Joshua Johnson From JFF

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.


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