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Labor Perspective From U.S. Secretary Of Labor Eugene Scalia: New Labor Department Apprenticeship Rule Can Help American Businesses Build Workforce

Published Sunday, March 15, 2020
by U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia Via
Labor Perspective From U.S. Secretary Of Labor Eugene Scalia: New Labor Department Apprenticeship Rule Can Help American Businesses Build Workforce

Running a business and need more Skilled Workers?

If you’re not considering Apprenticeships, then you’re behind the curve.

Top American companies, including IBM, CVS Health and Lockheed Martin, now rely on Apprenticeships to attract and train Workers.

A rule just issued by the U.S. Department of Labor will help even more American businesses use Apprenticeships to develop a skilled workforce that supports long-term growth.

Apprenticeships are paid positions in which workers master a new skill or trade through a combination of on-the-job training, mentoring and an educational component.

Completion of an Apprenticeship typically results in a credential certifying the expertise the Worker has acquired.

Apprenticeships are common in some United States industries, under a program the Labor Department has run since the 1930s.

The rule issued by the department today provides for Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, or IRAPs, to give employers, trade associations, educators and Unions additional flexibility to develop Apprenticeship Programs tailored to the needs of the current workplace and our dynamic economy.

For employers, this is an important opportunity: The rule is a means for a company to gain public recognition for crafting a training program that teaches the skills that it and other companies need on the factory floor, in the laboratory or in the office.

The Apprentices the business attracts will be learning the company's own processed and adding value to the company from day one, while earning a living and acquiring skills - and ultimately, a credential - with broader market applications.

The rule offers this flexibility by authorizing new accrediting bodies to recognize high-quality Apprenticeship Programs, much like private accreditation of universities.

These accrediting bodies, called Standards Recognition Entities, or SREs, can be set up by trade associations and business groups, community colleges, Unions and other organizations that have first-hand knowledge of the skills needed in the job market.

The Apprenticeship Programs recognized by the SREs can be tailored to particular employers’ needs, while carrying the seal of approval of the recognizing SRE - making the model attractive for industries such as health care, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

If you head a local manufacturing association, community college or small or large business looking for a more systematic way to develop a skilled workforce, I challenge you to work with others to establish an SRE.

And the Labor Department stands ready to offer assistance on how to develop a set of standards and procedures for recognizing when a company training program successfully confers the skills needed in your industry.

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