NSC submits comments on DOL’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Equal Employment Opportunity in Apprenticeship

By Katie Spiker, January 04, 2016

Today, National Skills Coalition submitted comments on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) in registered apprenticeship programs.

Under the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, the Department of Labor (DOL) is tasked with promoting standards necessary to “safeguard the welfare of apprentices,” which the agency interprets as including EEO in apprenticeship. The relevant regulations, found at 29 CFR 30, address the potentially discriminatory impact of recruitment, selection and hiring, and retention policies within apprenticeship programs registered with DOL and State Apprenticeship Agencies.  These regulations are intended to further DOL’s goal to promote and protect opportunity for all workers and all employers by removing barriers to fair workplaces.

The proposed rule would be the first update to the regulations since 1978 and would make two major changes: (1) add age (40 or older), genetic information, sexual orientation, and disability as protected bases upon which a sponsor of an apprenticeship program cannot discriminate, and (2) update affirmative action requirements for sponsors of registered apprenticeship programs. The proposed rules would also align the regulations with other changes to EEO laws in the past 37 years.

Overall, NSC supports DOL’s proposed rules. NSC’s comments focus on the potential linkage between the registered apprenticeship system and the workforce development system, given the recent passage and implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and the importance of quality pre-apprenticeship programs as a part of a career pathway leading to registered apprenticeship.

Specifically, NSC encourages DOL to issue updated guidance on what qualifies as a quality pre-apprenticeship program, adding specific references to WIOA and best practices on linkages between quality pre-apprenticeship programs and industry or sector partnerships.

NSC also encourages DOL to suggest registered apprenticeship sponsors partner with pre-apprenticeship training programs, working with the pre-apprenticeship training providers to tailor programming to sponsors’ needs and leading to more efficient –as well as diverse –recruitment outcomes for sponsors.

You can read the entirety of NSC’s comments here. The comment period is open until January 20, 2016.