In a recent letter to the House, SMACNA expressed its support for the bipartisan H.R. 447, The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021. Introduced by Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA-3), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Don Norcross (D-NJ-1), David McKinley (R-WVA-1) and more than a dozen cosponsors, this important apprenticeship legislation passed as H.R. 8294 late in the 116th Congress by a vote of 246-140. Our membership association remains committed to completing essential contracting services, advancing critical infrastructure projects and carrying out vital construction activities that provide work opportunities for skilled apprentices and craftworkers on highly complex projects nationwide.
Apprenticeships are the backbone of the highly skilled segment of the construction industry and investing in registered skill training is the only way to ensure the long-term viability and growth for America’s most important industries. SMACNA’s members have long recognized that the path to prosperity requires investment in high caliber, accredited registered apprenticeship programs.
Our members independently finance hundreds of apprentice training centers across the country with thousands of skilled future construction workers currently enrolled in our privately funded, joint labor-management training programs. SMACNA contractors invest millions of dollars in education and training facilities where registered apprentices perfect the skills needed to succeed on complex projects nationwide. In addition, our member contracting corporations provide paid “on the job” instruction for our apprentices with benefits.
H.R. 447 provides statutory authority for the Office of Apprenticeship (OA) within DOL. The OA's responsibilities include (1) supporting the development of apprenticeship models; (2) recognizing qualified state apprenticeship agencies, and operating apprenticeship offices in states without a recognized agency; (3) providing technical assistance to state agencies; (4) periodically updating requirements for each occupation in the apprenticeship program and determining whether to approve new occupations for the program; and (5) awarding grants provided under this bill. The bill also establishes in statute criteria for various programs, including (1) quality standards for apprenticeships, (2) requirements for apprenticeship agreements between a program sponsor and an apprentice, and (3) acceptable uses for grant funds awarded under this bill.