President Biden supports the House-passed and ABC-opposed National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (H.R. 447), which would not achieve its goal of expanding apprenticeship opportunities, as it would further restrict small businesses’ ability to access federally registered apprenticeship programs, limit job opportunities in the construction industry and create additional obstacles for the construction industry to meet future workforce demand and needs.
In addition, the House included harmful apprenticeship language in their ABC-opposed budget reconciliation package, formally titled the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), and the ABC-opposed America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), which includes language from the National Apprenticeship Act.
Unfortunately, the apprenticeship provisions in these bills could prove detrimental for the construction workforce and potentially limit apprenticeship opportunities for hardworking Americans.
The Senate is currently taking an alternative approach to the workforce development issue and has not supported floor action on the House-passed National Apprenticeship Act. ABC has worked with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to advocate for several critical reforms and policies to include in any Senate-supported workforce development legislation.
ABC will continue to advocate for an all-of-the-above workforce development strategy, including industry-driven and government-registered apprenticeship programs, so workers and employers have freedom to choose the best way to provide value and help rebuild America. ABC also believes that expanding access to all postsecondary credentials as defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is critical to filling the critical jobs gap facing construction and a host of other industries throughout the country.
ABC supports the Training America’s Workforce Act, which would allow for the federal recognition of industry and market-driven apprenticeship programs in the U.S. through third-party entities, approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, to recognize and perform oversight of apprenticeship programs developed by the private sector. The legislation mirrors much of the efforts of the Trump administration’s Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program rule. While the Trump rule explicitly excluded construction, ABC worked to ensure that the construction industry and associations like ABC, its chapters and its members are able to participate under this new proposal.
Additionally, ABC supports the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, to expand 529 plans for all recognized postsecondary credentials as defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and the Jumpstarting Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act, which would expand Pell Grant eligibility to cover high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs.