National Skills Coalition releases comments on the Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America

By Katie Spiker, October 23, 2017

In June, the President signed an Executive Order (EO), “Expanding Apprenticeships in America.” Last week the Secretary of Labor announced the members of the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion (task force), called for in the EO and tasked with advising the agency on the promotion of apprenticeship models across a range of industries, including new “industry recognized” apprenticeship programs.

In addition to the creation of the task force, the EO called on the Secretary of Labor to draft regulations on the creation of the new certified apprenticeships, including the process by which third-party certifiers would recognize programs and quality standards for these programs, and to use both appropriated and H-1B visa funds to promote apprenticeship. The EO also directed the head of each agency with programs under their jurisdiction that promote skills development and workforce readiness to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs and propose elimination of programs deemed to be “ineffective, redundant or unnecessary.”

National Skills Coalition supports efforts to expand apprenticeship and work-based learning, with a particular focus on diversifying and expanding the pipelines of workers who can benefit from these strategies, and ensuring that a broad range of businesses – including small and medium sized employers – are able to take advantage of these earn and learn models. Many of the components of the EO are generally consistent with NSC’s longstanding support for industry-driven partnerships that support work-based learning and other strategies to connect businesses and workers. NSC opposes any efforts, however, to cut needed workforce and education investments.

NSC offers the following set of recommendations to the Secretary of Labor and task force on next steps to implement the initiatives under the EO in a manner consistent with this focus and looks forward to working with the administration, Congress and other stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of the EO and continued support for vital workforce and education services.

  • Regulations, guidance and recommendations must include a robust and transparent process for feedback from diverse stakeholders
  • National third-party oversight needs to be coupled with local and regional expertise
  • Quality standards are vital to both business and worker success
  • Promoting apprenticeship must include supporting the intermediaries that help expand it
  • Building a diverse pipeline of apprentices in critical industry sectors is necessary to apprenticeship expansion
  • Integration with education pathways is key to widescale expansion
  • Federal initiatives to expand apprenticeship should build on – and support – state and local initiatives
  • Outcomes matter
  • Continued investment in a spectrum of effective workforce development programs is crucial to expanding apprenticeship

Read the full content of NSC’s recommendations here.