New HBCU apprenticeship program in D.C. aims to build pipeline for public service jobs

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HBCU graduates have always worked in the government space, but Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser wants to increase their presence with a new apprenticeship program.

With the future workforce projected to be more diverse than ever before, building a pipeline from minority-serving institutions to public service jobs will allow students to impact their communities through local government.

“We want the best and the brightest, the people who are passionate about our community, to work at D.C. government. The HBCU Public Service Program will keep talent in D.C. and bring young leaders into D.C. Government,” said Mayor Bowser.

As the government administration industry has hired 23.8% of HBCU graduates from 2021 to 2022, according to a 2022 LinkedIn analysis, the HBCU Public Service Program – open for applicants next year – plans to fill 25 apprenticeship positions with graduating seniors from HBCUs like Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).

These two District-based HBCUs partnership with the local government creates a mutually beneficial path to workforce equity by not only supporting the economic development of D.C. but also providing jobs for HBCU graduates.

D.C. is often seen as the place to go, work and make a difference in the political sphere.

“We know that people, including many of our university students, come to D.C. and stay in D.C. because they want to change the world. We want people to know that they can change the world, one person, one program, and one community at a time, in D.C. government,” said Mayor Bowser.

With political leaders and HBCU graduates like Vice President Kamala Harris and Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democratic Senator from Georgia, making splashes as high-profile public officials, Mayor Bowser hopes this program can help produce the next set of government leaders.

Students selected for the program will be hired as full-time employees for one year starting in June 2024. After they graduate and complete the program successfully, students will have the opportunity to receive a salary increase and have their apprenticeship turned into a job.

“They (college students) have a change-the-world mind-set. … And we want people to know they don’t have to move away, they don’t have to work for a think tank, they don’t have to work for the feds. They can do that in local government,” Mayor Bowser said, speaking at a recent Bloomberg CityLab conference at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center.

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