New proposed rules have been announced by the federal Department of Labor that will set standards in a variety of industries for apprenticeship programs.
But without explaining why, the federal agency says those rules will not initially apply to the nation’s construction industry.
As proposed, the rules could significantly expand apprenticeship programs by categorizing different industry and civic groups, as well as educational institutions and state and local government entities, as “standards recognition entities” tasked with establishing apprenticeship program standards.
In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Labor Department said a process established within the confines of the National Apprenticeship Act would also require that mentorship programs as well as industry-recognized credentialing be governed by federal equal employment opportunity regulations.
In response, the Associated General Contractors is attacking the Labor Department’s decision to exclude the construction industry from its apprenticeship proposal.
“The fact is that it remains too difficult for many firms and their partners to establish apprenticeship programs for construction workers,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the group.
“Barriers for apprenticeship programs often include the excessive costs incurred during the rigid and inflexible registration process,” Sandherr added.
But construction industry labor officials who have long argued that such programs should be handled solely by organized labor groups, like the proposed rules.
“These programs have no place in the construction industry,” said Sean McGarvey, president of the North America’s Building Trades Union, in a statement. “We firmly believe this exemption should be a permanent part of the final rule.”
In announcing the new proposed rules, the Department of Labor also unveiled some $183 million in grants that will go to private-public apprenticeship programs in the healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare industries.
A sixty-day public comment period ending on August 26 has been announced for the proposed apprenticeship rules.
By Garry Boulard
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