Legislation Helps More Students, Workers, and Employers Compete in the Global Economy

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee have introduced the Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act, to strengthen the nation’s workforce development system through registered apprenticeship programs. The EARNS Act would support pre-apprenticeship programs and new or expanding registered apprenticeship programs that provide national, portable credentials, and help secure academic credit for on-the-job learning portions of an apprenticeship.

The EARNS Act builds on a proven model supported by clear evidence of success. A 2012 evaluation of registered apprenticeship programs by Mathematica Policy Research found that the tax return on every public dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs was $27. It further found that individuals who completed registered apprenticeship programs earned over $240,000 more over their careers than individuals not participating in such programs.

Summary of the Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act

A highly skilled workforce is necessary to compete in the global economy, support economic growth, and maintain the standard of living of the United States. US registered apprenticeships is an employer led training model that prepares workers for the skill requirements of in-demand occupations while providing the workers with recognized, national credentials and wages while in training.

A 2012 evaluation of registered apprenticeship programs by Mathematica Policy Research found that:

  • the tax return on every public dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs was $27:1, and
  • individuals who completed registered apprenticeship programs earned over $240,000 more over their careers than individuals not participating in such programs.

A 21st century workforce requires that registered apprenticeships are thriving in all economic sectors, including service, information, trades, finance, manufacturing and healthcare.

The EARNS Act:

  • codifies the Office of Apprenticeship at the U.S. Department of Labor, allowing for Congressional oversight and budgetary regular authority;
  • supports and promotes the development of pre-apprenticeship programs by investing in training with a required link to a registered apprenticeship placement;
  • promotes greater diversity in registered apprenticeship programs;
  • aligns registered apprenticeship programs with other federal education and training programs and with state and local workforce development boards;
  • establishes a National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships, sets its membership, and tasks the Committee to make recommendations on streamlining the registration process and maintain standards;
  • requires an evaluation of the return on federal investment in improving skills and employability of participants and alignment with employer workforce needs;
  • establishes a voluntary Registered Apprenticeship College Collaborative to create a mechanism for conferring academic credit for employer led, on-the-job training and experiential learning and to expand registered apprenticeships as a post-secondary education option; and
  • expands the number employers offering registered apprenticeships by making available funds to defray the upfront costs for companies that create their first apprenticeship program or add companies to existing registered apprenticeships.

The EARNS Act is intended to:

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  • increase the number of highly skilled workers in in-demand industry sectors and occupations;
  • increase the attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials by participants;
  • increase awareness among students, parents, workers, and employers about the value of the registered apprenticeship program model as an effective earn-and-learn model;
  • support the expansion of registered apprenticeship programs with employers, joint labor management partnerships, and other program sponsors;
  • support the development and expansion of pre-apprenticeship programs that prepare workers for success in an employer led registered apprenticeship program; and
  • support a closer alignment between registered apprenticeship programs, the workforce development system, and postsecondary education.