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Murray unveils bipartisan bill to strengthen apprenticeships

kids-today-apprenticeshipWASHINGTON, D.C. (May 19, 2016) — Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking member of the Senate labor committee, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Wednesday introduced the Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s workforce development system through registered apprenticeship programs.

The EARNS Act would support pre-apprenticeship programs and new or expanding registered apprenticeship programs that provide national, portable credentials, and help secure academic credit for on-the-job learning portions of an apprenticeship. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Al Franken (D-Minn).

murray-patty“To ensure that our workforce can truly lead in the 21st century global economy, we need our students and workers to be prepared to compete for high-skill, high-wage jobs in industries across the economy,” Senator Murray said. “By strengthening and expanding registered apprenticeship programs, we can help workers get the training and experience they’ll need, while they are also earning a paycheck, and provide a ladder of opportunity to reach a stable middle class life. I look forward to continuing working with Senator Hatch and others to expand registered apprenticeships to serve more students, workers, and businesses across the country.”

15-Jeff-Johnson“The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, representing more than 450,000 union members in the State of Washington, is proud of Senator Murray’s dedication to fight for working families,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “Apprenticeship training is a powerful tool as we struggle to recover living wage jobs in a post-recession economy. The EARNS Act is the next step in solidifying this pathway for youth and transitioning workers, and to increase opportunities for people of color, women and those exiting incarceration.”

inslee-jay-gov“Registered Apprenticeships have been are an essential component in building Washington state’s skilled trades and manufacturing workforce,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “These unique partnerships bring employers and workers together to build customized industry training programs for high demand jobs which are critical for our state’s growth and prosperity. The EARNS Act would expand awareness and access to apprenticeship opportunities, for both workers looking for viable careers, and for employers in need of a highly trained, skilled workforce. I commend Senator Murray for her efforts supporting registered apprenticeship opportunities, which will help to grow our state’s workforce in key sectors.”

A highly skilled workforce is necessary to compete in the global economy, support economic growth, and maintain the standard of living of the United States. U.S. registered apprenticeships is an employer-led training model that prepares workers for the skill requirements of in-demand occupations while providing the workers with recognized, national credentials and wages while in training.

A 2012 evaluation of registered apprenticeship programs by Mathematica Policy Research found that:

●  The tax return on every public dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs was $27:1, and

●  individuals who completed registered apprenticeship programs earned over $240,000 more over their careers than individuals not participating in such programs.

A 21st century workforce requires that registered apprenticeships are thriving in all economic sectors, including service, information, trades, finance, manufacturing and healthcare.

The EARNS Act:

●  Codifies the Office of Apprenticeship at the U.S. Department of Labor, allowing for Congressional oversight and budgetary regular authority;

●  Supports and promotes the development of pre-apprenticeship programs by investing in training with a required link to a registered apprenticeship placement;

●  Promotes greater diversity in registered apprenticeship programs;

●  Aligns registered apprenticeship programs with other federal education and training programs and with state and local workforce development boards;

●   Establishes a National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships, sets its membership, and tasks the Committee to make recommendations on streamlining the registration process and maintain standards;

●  Requires an evaluation of the return on federal investment in improving skills and employability of participants and alignment with employer workforce needs;

●  Establishes a voluntary Registered Apprenticeship College Collaborative to create a mechanism for conferring academic credit for employer led, on-the-job training and experiential learning and to expand registered apprenticeships as a post-secondary education option; and

●  Expands the number employers offering registered apprenticeships by making available funds to defray the upfront costs for companies that create their first apprenticeship program or add companies to existing registered apprenticeships.

The EARNS Act will:

●  Increase the number of highly skilled workers in in-demand industry sectors and occupations;

●  Increase the attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials by participants;

●  Increase awareness among students, parents, workers, and employers about the value of the registered apprenticeship program model as an effective earn-and-learn model;

●  Support the expansion of registered apprenticeship programs with employers, joint labor management partnerships, and other program sponsors;

●  Support the development and expansion of pre-apprenticeship programs that prepare workers for success in an employer led registered apprenticeship program; and

●  Support a closer alignment between registered apprenticeship programs, the workforce development system, and postsecondary education.

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