Associations poised for authoritative role in apprenticeship programs

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor; CP staff

A Labor Department Notice of Proposed Rulemaking calls for empowering agency staff to advance development of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAP), and trade associations or other not-for-profit organizations to function as Standards Recognition Entities (SRE) overseeing IRAP training, structure, and curricula in relevant industries or occupational areas.

SRE would be recognized through the Labor Department to ensure that agency requirements are met—mirroring an existing relationship between the Education Department and higher education accrediting bodies. The Department would ensure that SRE have the capacity and quality-assurance processes and procedures needed to monitor IRAP, criteria for which include paid work; work-based learning, mentorship, education and instruction; industry-recognized credentials; safety and supervision; and, adhering to equal employment opportunity obligations.

“The apprenticeship model of earning while learning has worked well in many American industries, and today we open opportunities for apprenticeships to flourish in new sectors of our economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “With 7.4 million open jobs and job creators searching for skilled job seekers, apprenticeship expansion will continue to close the skills gap and strengthen the greatest workforce in the world.”

Stepped up workforce development measures stem from a June 2017 Executive Order with which President Trump instructed the Labor Secretary to consider establishing guidelines or requirements that qualified entities should or must follow to ensure that apprenticeship programs they recognize meet quality standards. It created a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion through which representatives of business, labor, educational institutions, trade associations, and public officials could offer recommendations on how to best expand the apprenticeship model. Recommendations were delivered to the White House in May 2018 and are reflected in this week’s Proposed Rulemaking, especially regarding acknowledgement of IRAP’s role in providing high-quality programs and opportunities in a market-driven system.


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