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Trahan, House Vote to Get Americans Back to Work by Expanding Lucrative Registered Apprenticeships

Landmark legislation includes Trahan’s bill to incentivize small businesses and their workers to participate in the national apprenticeship system

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, voted in the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 8294, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation that invests more than $3.5 billion over the next five years to create nearly one million new apprenticeship opportunities for American workers. The legislation also includes  Trahan’s bill to ensure that small businesses and their workers are able to reap the rewards of highly lucrative apprenticeships.

“At a time when as many as 7 million jobs could be permanently lost and workers continue to be in need of reliable pathways to quality employment, passage of this legislation to expand access to apprenticeships couldn’t be more important,” Congresswoman Trahan said. “As we navigate the economic challenges presented by COVID-19, robust investments in registered apprenticeships will prove key to getting folks back into the workforce with family-supporting wages.”

H.R. 8294 includes legislation (H.R. 8317) introduced by Trahan and Congressman Joe Morelle (NY-25), which authorizes the U.S. Department of Labor to provide grants to encourage participation in the national apprenticeship system by small and medium-sized businesses. The grants can be used by the businesses to defray the costs of the creation or expansion of an apprenticeship program, incumbent worker training as mentors or employees supervising apprentices, and wages for apprentices.

“The inclusion of my legislation to incentivize participation by small businesses and their workers in registered apprenticeships is absolutely necessary to limit the devastating impact this pandemic has had on the smallest of our small businesses, many of which are family-owned,” Congresswoman Trahan continued. “It’s my hope that the Senate recognizes the urgency in making this legislation law and takes it up without delay.”

“Now more than ever, with millions of Americans out of work, we need solutions that equip workers with the tools, skills, and stability to provide for themselves and their families,” said Congressman Morelle. “That’s why I am so proud that the work Rep. Trahan and I partnered on to make apprenticeships more accessible, increase job opportunities, and reduce the barriers small businesses face finding workers has made it into the National Apprenticeships Act of 2020.” 

The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 updates the National Apprenticeship Act for the first time since its enactment in 1937 and requires a number of federal investments that respond to the changing landscape of the American economy due to COVID-19. Specifically, the legislation passed by the House today:

  • Supports the creation or expansion of registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs, including in non-traditional apprenticeship occupations;
  • Sets consistent standards for registered apprenticeship programs, including requirements for apprenticeship agreements and program registration to ensure consistency in quality standards and worker protections;
  • Establishes or expands educational alignment with programs under the national apprenticeship system;
  • Codifies requirements that make sure that all individuals have an equal opportunity to participate in programs under the national apprenticeship system and increases diversity in the occupations offered and the individuals participating in programs, especially in high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand industry sectors and occupations; and
  • Strengthens the connections between the Departments of Education and Laborthrough an interagency agreement to support the creation and expansion of youth apprenticeships, college consortiums, and data sharing agreements.

94 percent of workers who complete a registered apprenticeship are employed at the conclusion of their programs and they earn an average of more than $70,000 annually. However, data from the Department of Labor shows that just 0.3 percent of workers nationwide have completed an apprenticeship. By increasing investments in the national apprenticeship system, H.R. 8294 will yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased workers productivity and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.

The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020  is endorsed by American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), Jobs for the Future (JFF), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), National Skills Coalition (NSC), National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues (TWTF), North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), and Third Way.