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SWACCA Applauds U.S. Department of Labor on Training and Employment Notice (TEN) on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs

SWACCA applauds U.S. Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta and the Department of Labor (DOL) on the Training and Employment Notice (TEN) on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs issued Friday July 27. The Guidance initially precludes entities from being authorized to establish Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) in construction. DOL largely adopted the reasoning that SWACCA used in comments filed with DOL last November and that our association and its union partners advanced in numerous meetings with government officials. Specifically, SWACCA asserted that prevalence and efficacy of registered apprenticeship programs in construction obviated the need for a new type of apprenticeship programs in our industry. The exemption for construction will govern Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) until DOL revises its Guidance or implements a final rulemaking through a public notice-and-comment process that is expected to commence later this year. 

IRAP’s are a new type of apprenticeship program created by President Trump’s June 16, 2017 Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeships in America. IRAPs are not required to satisfy the exacting standards in place for registered apprenticeship programs; and they are not directly regulated by DOL or a state apprenticeship agency. Rather, IRAPs and the standards governing them are controlled by private entities approved by DOL as certifiers in a particular industry. Under the Executive Order, IRAPs may ultimately be granted expedited and streamlined approval as registered apprenticeship programs. In addition to stating that “initially” no entity can be certified to create IRAPs in construction, the Guidance also make clear that participants in IRAPs do not qualify as apprentices for purposes of Davis-Bacon.

SWACCA has been active in Washington, D.C. advocating for high-quality apprenticeship and workforce training programs that produce the highly-skilled, safe workforce our industry requires. SWACCA supports efforts to expand the apprenticeship model to industries that have not historically utilized it. While supporting such efforts, SWACCA has been persistent and determined in working to ensure that efforts to expand apprenticeship do not undermine a system that is working well in the construction industry.

SWACCA takes satisfaction in seeing a carefully-crafted message that we have consistently advocated over many months with our union partners reflected in the new DOL Guidance. We are, however, mindful that the Guidance represents just a single battle in a larger, ongoing fight to protect high-quality apprenticeship programs in our industry. SWACCA will continue working with its allies in the unionized construction industry to inform the DOL rulemaking expected later this year on apprenticeship programs and to inform the deliberations of the recently created President’s National Council for the American Worker that is charged with making recommendations on expanding apprenticeship.