As Nation Faces Record Unemployment, Bipartisan Group Unveils Legislation to Expand Apprenticeships, Invest in Workforce Training
Today, Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-03) led a bipartisan group of Members in unveiling a proposed reauthorization of the National Apprenticeship Act that would create nearly one million new Registered Apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, and pre-apprenticeship positions over the next five years. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (H.R. 447) invests nearly $3.5 billion over five years to scale-up apprenticeship opportunities, streamline access to apprenticeships for workers and employers, and expand apprenticeships into new in-demand industry sectors and occupations.
The bill is also led by Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Congressman David McKinley (WV-01), and Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02).
According to the Department of Labor, 94 percent of apprentices who complete Registered Apprenticeships are employed upon completion, earning an average starting wage of above $70,000 annually. Yet, according to the most recent data, only 0.3 percent of the overall workforce in America have completed an apprenticeship.
The proposal's historic investments in workforce training would not only benefit workers and their families but would save American taxpayers an estimated $10.6 billion in the form of increased tax revenues from higher worker pay and productivity and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.
"Registered Apprenticeships remain one of our most successful tools for connecting workers with in-demand skills and good-paying jobs," said Chairman Scott. "This bipartisan bill -- which passed the House will overwhelming support last year -- will create nearly 1 million new apprenticeships and expand these opportunities to include a more diverse group of workers and a wider array of industries. It also enhances youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs that will prepare a new generation of workers for the modern economy.
"Congress must use every tool we have to address the widespread unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to once again passing this legislation through the House and I hope will Senate act quickly to get this bill on the president's desk. The National Apprenticeship Act is an important part of our renewed effort to help workers get back on their feet and build back a better economy."
"In Oregon and around the country, Registered Apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, and youth apprenticeships are helping workers gain the skills and support services they need to provide for themselves and their families," said Congresswoman Bonamici. "As we face historic levels of unemployment, they also provide a pathway for displaced and dislocated workers to find critical upskilling and reskilling opportunities. Registered Apprenticeships are a powerful tool to help workers who have historically faced barriers to entering the workforce access good-paying jobs. I'm pleased to join Chairman Scott and a bipartisan group of my colleagues in reintroducing the National Apprenticeship Act to expand access to life-changing apprenticeships."
"A registered apprenticeship program shaped my life -- laying the foundation for me to go from the construction site to Congress," said Congressman Norcross. "The bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act provides students and workers all over the country the ability to pursue apprenticeship opportunities by strengthening the proven and successful models developed by the Registered Apprenticeship Program -- America's most successful workforce program. Expanding access to apprenticeship opportunities will connect workers with stable, good-paying jobs as we continue to fight the pandemic and an economic crisis. I urge Congress to pass this legislation and aid our economic recovery by supporting American workers and their futures."
"Apprenticeship programs grow our economy by fostering training programs that will prepare workers for in-demand careers while addressing our nation's current shortage of trained workers," said Congressman Fitzpatrick. "By closing the skills gap, this reauthorization of the National Apprenticeship Act will enhance and invest in the Registered Apprenticeship model so that more Americans, especially students, have more options and access to good-paying jobs that support working families."
"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."
The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021:
Authorizes a grant program to:
Support the creation or expansion of registered pre-apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and apprenticeship programs, including in non-traditional apprenticeship occupations and for nontraditional populations.
Encourage employer participation and recruitment for individuals with barriers to employment, including individuals impacted by the criminal and juvenile justice system.
Support national industry and equity intermediaries, and intermediaries at the regional or local level.
Establish or expand educational alignment with programs under the national apprenticeship system.
Codifies and streamlines standards for registered youth apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, including requirements for apprenticeship agreements and program registration.
Codifies the Office of Apprenticeship, including roles and responsibilities such as:
Increasing promotion and awareness of programs under the expanded national apprenticeship system, including through technical assistance, program recognition activities, and increasing diversity in apprenticeable occupations and participants.
Bringing together industry sector leaders and experts, including employers, industry associations, joint labor-management organizations, labor organizations, education and training providers, credential providers, and apprentices to establish national frameworks for industry-recognized apprenticeable occupations.
Improving the data infrastructure to improve reporting and publicly disseminating information about apprenticeship programs.
Establishes the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships.
Codifies the roles and responsibilities of the State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) to include:
Authorizing annual funding for State Apprenticeship Offices (run by the DOL) and State Apprenticeship Agencies (run by states), and
Requiring SAA to submit plans for registered apprenticeship activities, which generally mirror existing state requirements under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
Strengthens the connections between the Department of Education and Department of Labor through an interagency agreement to support the creation and expansion of youth apprenticeships, college consortiums, and data sharing agreements.
For a fact sheet on the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, click here.
For a section-by-section of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, click here.
For the bill text of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, click here.
Original Sponsors of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021: Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-03), Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Rep. David McKinley (WV-01), Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02), Rep. Andy Levin (MI-09), Rep. Michael Bost (IL-12), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13), Rep. Susan Wild (PA-07), Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Rep. Gregorio Sablan (MP-At large), Rep. Andrew Garbarino (NY-02), Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08), and Rep. Lori Trahan (MA-03).