On February 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 447, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which invests more than $3.5 billion over 5 years in expanding opportunities and access to Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships. The legislation included Representative Derek Kilmer’s (WA-06) bipartisan amendment to ensure computer science youth apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and apprenticeship programs are prioritized for funding through the comprehensive legislation.
“We know that apprenticeship programs are one of the most effective paths to high quality, work-based learning in America. And in today’s changing economy, it’s important to continue to find ways to prepare our kids for the jobs of the future – jobs in advanced manufacturing, health care, technology, green jobs, and computer science,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I’m proud that in addition to investing broadly in apprenticeship programs across the board, Congress included my bipartisan amendment to expand access to computer science youth apprenticeship programs. These investments will provide more 21st century job opportunities for our kids, more qualified employees for our local employers, and more economic resiliency for our communities.”
“CSforALL is committed to high-quality computer science education for all K-12 students, including hands-on practical learning experiences such as career and technical education (CTE), internships, pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships. The tech industry and technology jobs are inherently dynamic,” said Ruthe Farmer, Chief Evangelist, CSforALL. “Apprenticeships enable students to engage with state-of-the-art technologies and develop job-ready skills that will prepare them for high-demand career pathways in technology – the engine that drives innovation in virtually every sector of society. CSforALL strongly supports increased opportunities for practical training for youth in computer science and related disciplines including data science, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 94 percent of people who complete Registered Apprenticeships are employed upon completion, earning an average starting wage of above $70,000 annually. Yet, according to the most recent data, only 0.3 percent of the overall workforce in America have completed an apprenticeship.
During a time of record unemployment, the National Apprenticeships Acts of 2021 would mark the first time the National Apprenticeship system has been comprehensively updated since 1937. The bill also takes the critical first step of codifying into federal law youth and pre-apprenticeship programs, a measure that Rep. Kilmer has long supported through his own legislation – the Compete for the Future Act. The Compete for the Future Act empowers the Department of Education, with the advice of the Department of Labor, to run a prize competition that would award eligible youth and pre-apprenticeship programs with investments to expand their programs and serve more students.
According to the House Committee on Education and Labor, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 is expected to create nearly 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities on top of the current expected growth of the apprenticeship system. It is also expected to yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased workers productivity and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.
By increasing investments in the national apprenticeship system, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 aims to begin to bring America’s investments in apprenticeships more in line with countries around the world. The U.S. spends only about 0.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on workforce training and employment programs, while peer industrialized nations spend roughly six times as much as a share of GDP.
The legislation aims to expand the nation’s workforce development system during our nation’s deepest economic decline since the Great Depression and increase diversity within the national apprenticeship system.
The legislation is endorsed by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), International Association of Iron Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jobs for the Future (JFF), Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), National Skills Coalition (NSC), National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues (TWTF), North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), National Urban League (NUL), and Third Way.