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Apprenticeship Expansion and What Employers Need to Know

Apprenticeship Expansion and What Employers Need to Know

The House of Representatives approved the reauthorization of the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA), which would invest billions into overhauling the apprenticeship programs overseen by the Department of Labor. Read on for the details and, if passed by the U.S. Senate, how this could impact employers.


What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a nationally-recognized credential, according to the Department of Labor (DOL). Apprenticeships emphasize on-the-job learning and training, mentorship, classroom instruction, and recognized credentials in their field. The length of an apprenticeship depends on the employer, the type of program, and the industry.


What's the Story?

The Registered Apprenticeship program, which refers to government-registered apprenticeships, was established in 1937 when Congress passed the National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) and over 80 years later, it has remained largely unchanged. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to revitalize the NAA, which would dedicate more funds into apprenticeships.

The bill would authorize nearly $4 billion to the program over the next 5 years and potentially create one million new apprenticeship opportunities. The goals of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 include expanding registered apprenticeships and youth apprenticeships; supporting apprenticeships in industries that don’t typically involve apprenticeships such as human resources, communication, and healthcare; and bolstering participation among women, minorities, veterans, and people who have been incarcerated. 

According to SHRM, the bill would also define and codify standards for apprenticeship programs and the structure of the DOL's Office of Apprenticeship and the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, which provides the office with improvement recommendations for the system. It would also work to include labor unions in apprenticeship activities, a goal that aims to protect workers.

What Else Should Employers Know?

If your organization’s industry doesn’t typically have opportunities to employ apprenticeship programs, that may change if this legislation is passed. With the proposed overhaul, one of the goals is to expand apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships beyond typical programs to industries such as healthcare, information technology, human resources, and more.

According to the Department of Labor, apprenticeship programs can benefit employers by increased recruitment and retention of skilled workforces, improved productivity, reduced turnover, customizable and flexible training, and increased diversity. 

The overhaul legislation will most likely not see movement in the Senate until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. If your organization doesn’t currently offer apprenticeships, you can look into it by visiting the DOL’s apprenticeship website.


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