A bipartisan group of senators and congressmen, including Chris Coons introduced the Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act.
This bill establishes a new initiative to grow and expand Apprenticeship Hubs, which are organizations that help employers design, develop, and deliver registered apprenticeship programs to provide targeted training to displaced workers looking to pursue new careers and to help high school students find employment immediately upon graduation.
The U.S. is seeing a growing shortage in skilled tradespeople as retirements outpace new workers. Apprenticeship programs are commonplace in Europe and include food, hospitality and other industries.
“Apprenticeships are what many call ‘the other four-year degree’ because they lead to well-paying jobs, a clear career path, little to no debt, and skills that can be used for a lifetime,” said Coons. “Apprentices earn wages during their training and in many cases are guaranteed a job with a solid middle-class starting salary. Our bill will help expand registered apprenticeships to a variety of job sectors to create more opportunities for America’s displaced workers and youth to address the growing skills gap in America. I’m proud to support important initiatives like the Delaware Pathways program with this legislation. Apprenticeships are an important investment for a strong American workforce and this bill helps secure that future.”
“An apprenticeship program shaped my life – taking me from construction work to Congress,” said Representative Donald Norcross, D-NJ, an electrician by trade. “My electrical apprenticeship training allowed me to learn-and-earn and set me on a path toward a fulfilling, family-sustaining career. America needs a well-trained workforce to help fill the jobs of the future, and apprenticeships are critical to our success. We need electricians and computer programmers, just like we need doctors and judges – and this bill expands high-quality career training programs.”
A major barrier to expanding registered apprenticeships in high growth job sectors outside of the skilled trades is employers’ lack of familiarity with the process to set up and manage registered apprenticeship programs, according to a release.
The Apprenticeship Hubs Across America Act addresses this need by supporting a national network of Apprenticeship Hubs that convene multiple stakeholders, including local workforce boards, community colleges, and employers, to help support the expansion of the registered apprenticeship model.
The bill comes as tensions grow over apprenticeship programs amid claims by unions that Associated Builders and Contractors wants to weaken apprenticeship programs.
Non-unon ABC has long claimed that unions should not have an outsized role in apprenticeship programs that in the past have also been accused of keeping out minorities and women.
A union group is now airing radio ads in Philadelphia and other markets that target ABC stance.
ABC is not listed as a supporter of the apprenticeship bill.