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Bipartisan bill aims to update old apprenticeship law for a new economy

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Dive Brief:

  • Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-W.I., and Lisa Murkowski, R-A.R., introduced legislation July 10 aimed at modernizing the National Apprenticeship Act, providing funds for employers to craft apprenticeship programs in new industries and to improve access to childcare, eldercare and other “wrap-around” services.
  • The legislation would update the current National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, encouraging employers to create apprenticeships in manufacturing, cybersecurity, clean energy and other in-demand industries. It also seeks to streamline the application process and encourage employers to develop sector partnerships to build career pathways.
  • “To grow our economy, expand the middle class, and meet businesses’ workforce demands, we need to ensure workers have access to the training and skills to land good-paying jobs. And apprenticeship programs are a time-tested way of doing just that,” Baldwin said in a statement.

Dive Insight:

Apprenticeships remain a point of interest for the U.S. Department of Labor and the federal government as a whole to fill much-needed positions and upskill American workers.

Part of President Joe Biden’s FY24 budget proposal included funding for the Registered Apprenticeship program, particularly for construction, clean energy and semiconductor manufacturing, as well as the Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness program, which focuses on partnerships similar to those mentioned in the new bill.

Diversity has especially been a focus under the Biden DOL through grants to expand access to registered apprenticeships. But while youth participation in apprenticeship is rising, analysis from Jobs for the Future said diversity remains a sticking point. Among other reasons, workplaces that tend to hire apprentices may have “sometimes been inhospitable to people who aren’t white or male” — something the new legislation seeks to address through funding and wrap-around services to allow people of all backgrounds to gain access to training.

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