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DOL Releases Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship’s Recommendations to Guide Forthcoming Proposed Rule on “National Apprenticeship System Enhancements”

Following last week’s meeting of the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA), the Biden Labor Department released the recommendations and the Biennial Report of the ACA that will guide the Labor Department’s forthcoming proposed rule on “National Apprenticeship System Enhancements” expected to issue as soon as June.

The ACA’s recommends creating a “Quality Seal of Approval” for registered apprenticeships that: (1) recruit workers reflecting the demographics of their local area; (2) pay a living wage as established by the MIT Living Wage Calculator; (3) use a 1-to-1 apprentice/journey worker ratio for construction and other high hazard industries; and (4) graduate a certain number of apprentices without significant disparities based on race, ethnicity, or gender. Apprenticeship programs that get the seal will get preferences for federal grants, and contractors hiring apprentices from these “quality” programs will get preferences bidding on projects. 

The ACA also released its proposals to: (1) improve pathways to registered apprenticeships; (2) increase diversity, equity and inclusion; (3) conduct industry outreach to expand registered apprenticeship into new sectors; (4) to modernize the marketing, onboarding, and quality standards for registered apprenticeships; and (5) to ensure family sustaining wages for apprentices. 

ABC and other construction groups are objecting to the ACA’s recommendations asserting they will favor union-affiliated programs, compound the inability of the registered apprenticeship system to meet the construction industry’s personnel needs, and require wages that are “up to 123% higher than median construction industry tradesperson wages.”  The National Association of State and Territorial Apprenticeship Directors (NASTAD) also objected to the ACA’s Living Wage recommendations.

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