DOL Kicks Off Apprenticeship Week, New Regulations Forthcoming

NOVEMBER 14, 2017

The Department of Labor (DOL) is hosting its third annual National Apprenticeship Week throughout the country from November 13-19, highlighting the importance of apprenticeships as well as providing a platform for employers to spotlight their individual programs.

President Trump in June signed an Executive Order (EO) 13801 aimed at expanding apprenticeship programs in the U.S. and instructing the DOL to propose regulations that allow development of apprenticeship programs by third parties, such as trade associations, unions, or businesses, that would be approved and certified by the government.

The White House says that hands-on learning best prepares Americans for in-demand jobs. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training and classroom education, and the participants earn a certification.

The EO notes that the too many individuals are pursuing undergraduate degrees at considerable expense and time, but are not adequately trained and equipped with the skills necessary for today’s jobs, highlighting that “federal programs must do a better job matching unemployed American workers with open jobs, including the 350,000 manufacturing jobs currently available.”

Under existing apprenticeship rules, DOL directs how programs are administered, the length of hands-on training, and the minimum number of required hours of classroom instruction. As part of the EO, DOL is directed to assemble a task force to determine strategies and opportunities to promote apprenticeship programs at high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities.

DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta announced last month that the Department had taken the next step to implement the EO, naming a task force that includes U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of American President Douglas McCarron.

That task force will recommend a proposed set of apprenticeship reforms, looking at:

  • Federal initiatives to promote apprenticeships;
  • Administrative and legislative reforms that would facilitate the formation and success of apprenticeship programs;
  • The most effective strategies for creating industry-recognized apprenticeships; and,
  • The most effective strategies for amplifying and encouraging private-sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

Many ILMA members have expressed frustration with the lack of an available, trained talent pool for many key positions, so DOL’s apprenticeship week is a positive step to spotlight programs while the Department seeks to implement changes through the rulemaking process.