A decision by the White House to exclude the construction industry from its long-anticipated Industry Regulated Apprenticeship Program is being criticized by a major builders’ group.
“It remains troubling that the administration has wasted so much time, energy and political capital in creating a new apprenticeship program that is both deeply flawed and fails to address construction workforce shortages,” Stephen Sandheer said in a statement.
The chief executive officer of the Washington-based Associated General Contractors of America, Sandherr continued: “The administration should have found ways to make it easier to establish the kind of rigorous, high-quality, construction apprenticeship programs that exist in some, but far from every part of the country.”
As established, the Industry Regulated Apprenticeship Program is actually a series of programs governed by the Department of Labor allowing individuals to obtain knowledge and advanced skills in the workplace.
The Labor Department’s just-issued final rules on the programs notes that such entities can be developed by nonprofit organizations, corporations, and any number of trade or industry groups.
In announcing those rules, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said that the programs are “widely recognized to be a highly effective job-training approach for American workers and for employers seeking the skilled workforce needed in today’s changing workforce.”
President Trump had signed an executive order in the summer of 2017 expanding the program, while also establishing a task force made up of business, labor, trade associations, and educational institutions designed to offer their input on how to improvement the effort.
By tradition, once such programs are put in place by various industries, those industries also qualify for federal grants to underwrite them.
Almost from the start, the construction industry was excluded from the new rules based on the theory that there are other non-construction industry specific apprenticeship efforts that nevertheless still relate to construction workforce training.
Various construction labor groups have contended that creating any new effort within the Administration’s Industry Regulated Apprenticeship Programs would prove duplicative.
According to industry statistics, there were as of 2018 nearly 167,000 individual construction apprentices nationally.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox.