Local lawmakers support apprenticeship bill Will help expand access to grants, ensure programs meet workforce needs

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GENESEE COUNTY — Local lawmakers are applauding the passage of legislation that would support and expand access to apprenticeships.

On Nov. 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year reauthorization of the National Apprenticeship Act, which will invest more than $3.5 billion over the next five years in expanding opportunities and access to Registered Apprenticeships.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), the chief deputy whip of the House Democratic Caucus, released a statement about the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020.

“Apprenticeships open the door to good-paying jobs by providing people hands-on experience that leads to gainful employment. Through these programs, students can not only avoid costly student loan debt, but actually earn a wage while they work,” he said. “I am proud to support legislation that will grow Michigan’s economy by creating a highly-skilled workforce.”

The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 would create over one million apprenticeship opportunities over five years by:

• Starting a grant program to support the expansion of registered pre-apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and apprenticeship programs;

• Establishing the Office of Apprenticeship within the Department of Labor, to ensure participation and diversity in apprenticeship programs and review quality standards;

• Requiring State Apprenticeship Agencies to submit plans on how they will promote equal opportunity and meet local workforce needs through apprenticeships; and

• Requiring the Departments of Labor and Education to align youth apprenticeships to high school graduation requirements and simplify the transfer process between apprenticeship programs and institutions of higher education.

This bill authorizes $400 million for the fiscal year 2021, and it will increase by $100 million annually to $800 million for the fiscal year 2025 to support the creation or expansion of registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeship programs, including in non-traditional apprenticeship occupations.

During these registered apprenticeships, individuals receive on-the-job training, instruction and mentorship while being paid and working toward a nationally recognized credential.

According to the Department of Labor, 94 percent of apprentices remain employed when they complete their apprenticeship, with an average starting salary of $70,000. The U.S. has added over 640,000 new registered apprentices since Jan. 1, 2017. There are now more than 1,200 apprenticeable occupations from the traditional construction and military occupations to newer sectors such as information technology, finance, and health care.