Apprenticeship Reauthorization Bill Advanced by Committee

On September 24, the House Committee on Education & Labor voted 26-16 to advance H.R. 8294, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020. The vote was along party lines, with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans in opposition. The bill represents an attempt to reauthorize and modernize the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, which has not been significantly updated in the 83 years since original passage. This legislation governs the registered apprenticeship system, a key tool for employers to provide on-the-job training to potential employees.

Provisions of H.R. 8294 include:

  • Authorizing $3.5 billion over 5 years for new grant programs that aim to create up to 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities and expand apprenticeships to new occupations;
  • Authorizing $475 million over 5 years to support State Apprenticeship Agencies, which are certified by the Department of Labor (DOL) to regulate registered apprenticeships in their state;
  • Codifying and streamlining standards for registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships;
  • Creates a National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships and an interagency agreement between DOL and the Department of Education to support youth apprenticeships.

Republican members of the committee stated their support for increased investment in apprenticeships, but opposed the bill primarily due to its exclusion of funding for Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). These new programs allow DOL to approve industry groups to certify their own apprenticeships and are opposed by Democrats.

Timing for a vote by the full House of Representatives has yet to be announced. While negotiations may continue, the bill in its present form is unlikely to pass the Republican controlled Senate.