Department of Labor’s $100 Million Investment in Apprenticeship is a Good First Step But More Needs to Be Done

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, February 19, 2020

Washington, D.C. — The following is a statement from Katie Spiker, Director of Government Affairs at National Skills Coalition, in response to U.S. Department of Labor’s $100 million investment in apprenticeship grants:

These investments are a critical first step towards building and sustaining local partnerships that are needed to expand access to apprenticeship for workers, while also meeting the needs of businesses.

We know that small- and medium-sized businesses usually don’t have the infrastructure and resources to establish apprenticeships and other work-based learning programs on their own. Workers also need critical support services like child care and transportation assistance that would provide more equitable access to these training programs and enable workers to successfully complete them.

Local partnerships are key to providing that support. And we’re glad to see that the grants are being awarded to strong partnerships that include labor, community organizations, and community and technical colleges.

But in order to truly scale apprenticeship to meet the needs of workers, businesses, and our economy, we need more sustainable funding – like the PARTNERS Act proposes – that would provide consistent investment in partnerships to grow, evolve, and continue to meet the needs of workers and businesses in a 21st century economy.

While increasing access to apprenticeship and work-based learning is an important step towards expanding economic opportunities for working families and meeting the workforce needs of businesses, we must also increase our investments in other parts of the workforce system – especially given that federal investment in workforce training has been slashed by 40% over the past two decades. The U.S. also underinvests in workforce development compared to virtually every other industrialized country in the world.

As Congress approaches appropriation season, lawmakers should heed the call of workers and businesses who overwhelmingly want to see a significant increase in federal investment in job training, including and beyond apprenticeship.