National Apprenticeship Act of 2020

The House voted on H.R. 8294, which would authorize $3.9 billion over five years to expand registered apprenticeships through grants and modify the approval process for apprenticeship programs.  The legislation does not authorize Industry-recognized apprenticeship programs and it would authorize $400 million in fiscal 2021, increasing by $100 million annually to $800 million in fiscal 2025, for a competitive grant program to expand registered apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, and pre-apprenticeship programs. The legislation would codify the Apprenticeship Office within the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration. The office would award three-year grants to public and private sector stakeholder partnerships to:

  • Expand apprenticeship programs in industries such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, health care, or child care.
  • Encourage employer participation in programs that target individuals with barriers to employment, women, minorities, veterans, incarcerated individuals, and foster youth.
  • Increase alignment between apprenticeship programs and secondary and postsecondary education systems.

Grant recipients would need to match at least 25% of the awarded amount with nonfederal funds. The matching requirement would not apply in exceptional circumstances, such as a grantee serving a high proportion of individuals with barriers to employment. Grants could be extended for an additional two years. 
The measure would direct grant recipients to allocate at least 5% of funds for financial aid to apprentices through emergency grants.  Grantees would be required to complete an annual independent evaluation of how funds were used, and the number of program participants served.
The legislation would authorize $50 million in fiscal 2021, increasing by $10 million annually to $90 million in fiscal 2025, for the office, which also would have to:

  • Engage with public and private sector stakeholders to expand registered apprenticeship programs.
  • Support recruitment of individuals underrepresented in an "apprenticeable" occupation and promote engagement with employers from industries or occupations underrepresented in the national apprenticeship system.
  • Support state apprenticeship agencies and programs and engage minority serving institutions.
  • Ensure that academic credit and credentials earned through the programs can be stacked and transferred.
  • Establish a single repository to collect performance data from the national apprenticeship system and provide a public website with information on programs.

The legislation would authorize $75 million in fiscal 2021, increasing by $10 million annually to $115 million in fiscal 2025, for state apprenticeship agencies (SAA) to support programs under the national apprenticeship system.  Each state would receive funding based in part on a formula using several factors, including the number of individuals participating in an apprenticeship program, living below the poverty line, and who are unemployed.  Agencies would have to match at least 25% of their allocation with nonfederal funds. The legislation would direct agencies to also use:

  • At least 10% of funds to align youth apprenticeships with secondary education programs and to align instruction under the national apprenticeship system with credit-granting postsecondary programs.
  • At least 10% of funds to work with state or local workforce development boards.
  • As much as 15% of funds to increase diversity within apprenticeship programs.

Also, the measure would require all programs under the national apprenticeship system to:

  • Provide a written plan on work-based learning, classroom-based instruction, compensation, and assessing an apprentice's knowledge and skills.
  • Equally grant advanced standing or credit to applicants with demonstrated competency or experience.
  • Meet safety standards and provide all individuals with equal opportunity to participate.
  • Provide an apprenticeship agreement and a certificate of completion for each participant.

The legislation would authorize $10 million in fiscal 2021, increasing by $2 million annually to $18 million in fiscal 2025, for the Labor and Education departments to enter into an interagency agreement. The agreement would support the integration of registered apprenticeships with secondary, postsecondary, and adult education programs. The Labor Department would conduct, through an independent entity, research for improving the effectiveness of registered apprenticeship programs. The research would have to address the extent to which the programs respond to the needs of the local labor market and align with high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand industries or occupations.
Finally, the Labor Department expressed concerns with the legislation and said the measure "includes an excessive number of requirements that are overly prescriptive, unworkable, and may have unintended consequences." The department also wrote that the measure would repeal the authority used to create IRAP, and remove the legal basis for the agency's operation of that program.

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