Associated Builders and Contractors responded to the Biden Administration’s launch of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative, saying that while raising awareness about apprenticeship is commendable, the promotion of only government-registered apprenticeships is not.

“With the construction industry facing a shortage of 650,000 skilled workers in 2022, ABC appreciates the Biden administration’s launch of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC  vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “It is important to raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeship to employers, educators and career-seekers from underserved populations as well as to identify and scale innovative practice to modernize and expand registered apprenticeship programs. ABC is a strong supporter of government-registered and industry-registered apprenticeships; in fact, ABC’s Virginia, New Mexico and Pacific Northwest chapters were among the first Apprenticeship Ambassadors selected by the U.S. Department of Labor in July 2022.

“However, the administration’s promotion of only government-registered apprenticeship programs—which graduate roughly 40,000 to 45,000 apprentices a year in the construction industry—is concerning because it is disconnected from market realities­ and industry best practices.

“Upskilling the construction industry requires a strong focus on educating our workforce on core competencies, such as transferable skills in safety, efficiency and productivity,” said Brubeck. “We must support inclusive, market-driven, all-of-the-above solutions to workforce development as part of the effort to attract and retain a diverse construction industry workforce.

“ABC’s comprehensive approach to workforce development has produced a network of ABC chapters and affiliates across the country that offer more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, safety and management education programs—including more than 300 government-registered apprenticeship programs across 20 different occupations—to build the people who build America,” said Brubeck.