In a recent letter to the Senate, SMACNA expressed it's support for passage of The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 (H.R. 8294). Passed November 20th in the House (246-140), this important apprenticeship legislation was reported from the Education and Labor Committee (H. Rpt. 116-567) on November 9, 2020. This long overdue apprenticeship enhancement initiative is vitally important to quality job training and high skill job creation.
SMACNA 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. 8294 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.