Last week, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rosa DeLauro, Ranking Democrats on the Senate and House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittees, wrote to Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta expressing their strong support for the nation’s Registered Apprenticeship (RA) programs. In their letter, the two Ranking Members stressed not only the importance of continued funding for apprenticeships but also for the rigor, equity, and worker protections provided through Registered Apprenticeships.
Jobs for the Future (JFF) strongly supports funding for the expansion of high quality apprenticeships in this country. JFF recognizes the strong bipartisan support in the 2016 and 2017 spending bills that provided historic investments totaling $185m in the nation’s apprenticeship system. We appreciate Senator Murray and Representative DeLauro for their support of this critical funding, and their continued strong support for the apprenticeship system. Further, we applaud the Department of Labor’s recognition of apprenticeship and other forms of work-based learning as highly effective strategies for preparing Americans for high demand careers. We also share the Ranking Members’ concerns that program quality, equity and worker protections afforded under RA not be eroded in any changes envisioned for apprenticeships in the U.S. The current RA program ensures rigor and alignment with industry standards and credentials; critical worker protections; equity in access and participation; and the use of data for determining quality. This is why Registered Apprenticeship is often referred to as the "gold standard" of training programs—setting high industry standards similar to the much-lauded models in Switzerland and Germany—and validating apprentices’ knowledge, skills, and abilities wherever they go in that industry.
JFF has seen first-hand the success of earn and learn approaches to education and training for youth and adults. JFF recently announced the establishment of a Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning that will bring together national resources, proven and promising practices, and technical assistance to support the development of these successful workforce strategies. Apprenticeships have provided sure pathways to in-demand careers for a wide range of workers. Under the existing program, over 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing training at an average starting wage of $60,000. With over 500,000 apprenticeships in the U.S., this form of training has a high return on investment for workers and employers— increasing productivity, growing front-line innovation, and reducing waste.
Going forward, it is critical that funding and support for apprenticeships in the U.S. grow and that the high standards, worker and equity protections that have resulted in the overwhelming success of this evidence-based training model be upheld. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Administration to grow this highly effective approach to education and training that well-serves American workers and employers.