Sens. Coons & Young, Reps. Norcross & McKinley reintroduce bill to expand registered apprenticeships to new job sectors

Press Release

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) and U.S. Representatives Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.) reintroduced the Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act to expand the highly successful registered apprenticeship model to high-growth job sectors. The bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). At a time when more than 10 million Americans are unemployed due to COVID-19, apprenticeships provide proven pathways to well-paying jobs that offer workers in-demand skills and tangible credentials. Apprenticeships work for a wide range of Americans, from recent high school graduates to experienced workers pivoting to new industries during a time of economic change.

This Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act establishes a new initiative at the U.S. Department of Labor to expand highly successful Apprenticeship Hubs, which are organizations that help employers design, develop, and deliver Registered Apprenticeship Programs. A major barrier to expanding registered apprenticeships in high-growth job sectors outside of the skilled trades is employers' lack of familiarity with the process to set up and manage Registered Apprenticeship Programs. The Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act addresses this need by supporting a national network of Apprenticeship Hubs that convene local workforce boards, community colleges, unions, and employers to help support the expansion of the extremely successful registered apprenticeship model. In the 116th Congress, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives as a part of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 (H.R. 8294). The Senate did not vote on the bill.

"I'm proud to reintroduce the Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act at a time when government investment in quality job training programs is more important than ever," said Senator Coons. "By supporting organizations that help employers design, develop, and deliver Registered Apprenticeship Programs, we can re-skill and prepare millions of America's displaced workers for work in not only the trades, but also in advanced manufacturing, health care, science, hospitality, and information technology. I was pleased the bill passed the House of Representatives last Congress, and I urge my colleagues in both chambers to advance this legislation."

"Now that a global pandemic has displaced many American jobs, it is more important than ever to invest in career-supporting apprenticeship programs. That's why I am joining my colleagues to reintroduce the Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act to increase access to apprenticeships, which provide opportunities and benefits to Hoosier communities," said Senator Young.

"A Registered Apprenticeship shaped my life -- laying the foundation for me to go from the construction site to Congress," said Congressman Norcross. "The Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act will provide students and workers across the country access to apprenticeship opportunities by expanding and strengthening the proven models developed by the Registered Apprenticeship Program. Expanding access to Registered Apprenticeships -- our country's most successful workforce training program -- will allow workers to earn while they learn and accelerate our economic recovery. I urge Congress to pass this legislation and support American workers and their futures."

"Investing in job training programs and apprenticeships is crucial, especially when COVID-19 has left millions of Americans without work," said Congressman McKinley. "By increasing access to apprenticeships, we will close the skilled workers gap, create good-paying jobs in our communities, and help aid in our economic recovery."

Apprenticeship Hubs participate in a variety of activities, such as providing guidance and mentorship of apprentices to ensure retention and completion; working with employers to design the apprenticeship curriculum; and navigating the registration process for apprenticeships. The bill also instructs the Department of Labor to conduct national workshops on how to create Apprenticeship Hubs and disseminate best practices on the effective development and implementation of Registered Apprenticeship Programs. In Delaware, Delaware Pathways is an Apprenticeship Hub that convenes education and workforce leaders in the state and leverages community support to broaden career pathways for youth by developing new apprenticeship programs in a variety of occupations.

The bill text is available here. A one-pager can be found here.

The Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act is endorsed by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU), Jobs for the Future, Third Way, New America, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Small Business Majority, and Delaware Pathways.

"Over the past two centuries, we established free primary and secondary education and public two- and four-year colleges in every state," said Gabe Horwitz, Senior Vice President of the Economic Program at Third Way. "Now, we must add the missing piece, making apprenticeships a ubiquitous part of our educational system. Senator Coons' legislation takes an essential first step to making that a reality. This legislation is critical to fostering an inclusive economic recovery from COVID-19, which has devastated our economy and left millions of Americans out of work. Apprenticeships can play a key role in helping people regain their footing in the job market."

"JFF's Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning applauds this bipartisan effort to encourage and support the growth of apprenticeship intermediaries," said Eric Seleznow, Senior Advisor at Jobs For the Future (JFF). "Intermediaries play a critical role in organizing and expanding high quality apprenticeship programs that help workers obtain the skills to succeed while helping businesses train their next generation of workers. There is an emergence of new intermediaries including community colleges, workforce boards, private firms, community-based organizations, and industry associations, among others, that make it easier for employers to create high quality registered apprenticeship programs. This bill will support these on-going efforts to expand the proven practice of apprenticeships for both adults and youth."

"The ongoing impact of COVID-19 is making the important work of creating clear pathways to good jobs more urgent, complex and expansive in scale," said Brent Parton, Deputy Director for the Center on Education & Labor at New America. "Apprenticeship is a proven model that offers a combination of paid, on-the-job training, and debt-free postsecondary credentials connected to good jobs. We need to invest in our national infrastructure to extend the guarantees of apprenticeship to more students and workers in more ­sectors, such as health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and education. The Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act addresses this critical need by making essential investments in intermediaries that make it easier for more employers to start apprenticeship programs, and expand these opportunities to more Americans."

"Through our Combined WIOA and Perkins State Plan, Delaware has made tremendous strides in creating a career pathways system that is predicated on learner voice and employer needs," said Luke Rhine, Director of Career & Technical Education and STEM Initiatives at Delaware Department of Education. "TheApprenticeship Hubs Across America Act of 2021 will help to expand apprenticeship as part of a system of higher education that values stackable industry credentials and connected degree models. We applaud Senator Coons and his colleagues for their work and their desire to develop new opportunities for employers to connect with education and training institutions."