President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala D. Harris on Wednesday will meet with a group of labor leaders to discuss the American Rescue Plan and to get input on the President’s infrastructure plan. They will discuss how to put millions of Americans to work in good-paying union jobs building roads, bridges, transit, electric vehicle charging stations, broadband, schools and child care centers, water infrastructure, and more. Major infrastructure investments will provide reliable, steady demand for products made by U.S. workers and supply chains of U.S. small businesses. These investments will provide opportunities to Americans who have been too often left behind. And, they will make America more competitive.
President Biden has called for the jobs created by rebuilding America’s infrastructure to be filled by diverse, local, well-trained workers who have a choice to join a union. This starts by expanding registered apprenticeship programs and investing in pipelines into these programs.
Due in large part to the hard work of National Association of Building Trades unions and other unions, registered apprenticeships have been a reliable pathway to the middle class for decades – including for workers who don’t go to college – by training workers for good jobs and allowing them to earn while they learn. A Mathematica study shows workers can earn $240,000 more over the course of their lifetime – $300,000 when including benefits – by participating in these programs. Registered apprenticeships are especially important as we recover from the pandemic, allowing workers who have lost their jobs or young people who are entering a weak job market to train for the jobs of the future while earning a decent income.
Today, President Biden is:
- Reaffirming his commitment to expanding registered apprenticeships to reward work, rebuild the middle-class, and connect a diverse workforce to family-supporting, living wage jobs. President Biden endorses Congressman Bobby Scott’s bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which will create and expand registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs. The House Education and Labor Committee estimates that the bill will create nearly 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities and generate billions of dollars in benefits for taxpayers. Importantly, this bill will ensure these programs draw in a diverse workforce, by supporting industry and equity intermediaries who can help recruit women and people of color. And, it’ll bolster successful partnerships between apprenticeship programs and community colleges. This type of legislation is an urgently needed start, but even more investment is required to train Americans for good-paying jobs across industries ranging from construction to energy to manufacturing to technology to caregiving.
- Reinstating the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships. President Biden believes that the voice of workers must be central to the development of strategies to rebuild the economy of the future. To that end, President Biden is asking the Department of Labor (DOL) to reinstate the longstanding National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships. This Advisory Committee will appoint a diverse set of stakeholders from across the country – including unions, employers, apprentices, community colleges and other institutions – to build a registered apprenticeship program that works in all communities. As we rebuild our economy from this crisis, the Advisory Committee will have the opportunity to focus on expanding apprenticeships into new employment industries and sectors like clean energy, technology, and healthcare to create more high-quality training and employment opportunities. The Advisory Committee must also focus on making sure that Black and brown Americans, immigrants, and women can access the training and jobs of the future.
- Reversing industry recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs), which threaten to undermine registered apprenticeship programs. Industry-recognized apprenticeship programs have fewer quality standards than registered apprenticeship programs – for example, they fail to require the wage progression that reflects increasing apprentice skills and they lack the standardized training rigor that ensures employers know they are hiring a worker with high-quality training. Today, President Biden is rescinding Executive Order 13801, which spurred the creation of these programs. He is also asking DOL to consider new rulemaking to reverse these programs and to immediately slow support for industry recognized apprenticeship programs by pausing approval of new Standards Recognition Entities and ending new funding for existing Standards Recognition Entities.