ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Senators Amy Klobuchar and Susan Collins of Maine recently introduced the American Apprenticeship Act to create and expand tuition assistance programs for participants in apprenticeship programs, according to Klobuchar’s office.
Apprenticeships provide employers with an opportunity to stay in the labor market, earn a living wage and to pursue a nationally-recognized credential.
For employers, apprenticeships provide a custom trained workforce, reduced turnover and improved safety outcomes. According to Klobuchar’s office, while evidence “indicates that the apprenticeship model is a highly effective training model,” it is not widely used by U.S. workers or employers.
The act would provide funding to states for the creation or expansion of tuition assistance programs that benefit participants in pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship programs.
"We have businesses that need workers and workers that need jobs, but oftentimes, their skills just aren't matching up. In my home state of Minnesota, more than 70 percent of our manufacturers said it was difficult for them to find workers with the right skills and experience," Klobuchar said. "Our bipartisan bill would create and strengthen tuition programs for those who participate in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to help more of our workers bridge that skills gap. By investing in the development of the workforce of the future, this legislation will make American businesses and workers more competitive in today's global economy."
Additionally, Senator Collins said that "few issues are as important to the American people as the availability of good jobs in our communities. I have met with many business owners in Maine who have jobs available but cannot find qualified and trained workers to fill these vacant positions. By helping to expand tuition assistance and making apprenticeship programs more accessible and affordable, our legislation will help Americans gain in-demand skills and obtain good-paying jobs."
Since its introduction, the legislation has been endorsed by the Center for American Progress and the Center for Law and Social Policy.
According to Klobuchar’s office, the act would “recognize that states play a pivotal role in elevating and expanding Registered Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships as workforce solutions and authorize the Department of Labor to award competitive grants to states that have developed effective strategies to diversify, market, and scale Registered Apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.”
The Act would also authorize states to use grant funds to assist participants in pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship programs in obtaining industry-relevant classroom instruction.