On June 24, the Department of Labor announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would establish a process for DOL to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs, according to www.dol.gov.
In addition, DOL is awarding $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for 23 educational institutions partnering with companies that provide a funding match component.
Under the proposed rule, entities such as trade, industry and employer groups or associations, educational institutions, state and local government entities, nonprofit organizations, unions, or a consortium or partnership of these entities could become a Standards Recognition Entity that sets standards for training, structure and curricula for IRAPs in relevant industries or occupational areas. The SREs would be recognized through DOL to ensure its requirements are met, resulting in only high-quality IRAPs. The relationship is similar to the one that exists between the Department of Education and higher education accrediting bodies.
A 60-day public comment period begins with the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. DOL invites comments regarding the content of the proposed rule by following the transmittal directions contained in the NPRM.
The $183.8 million in grants is going to private-public apprenticeship partnerships in information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care. Funded through H-1B visa fees, the grants will support the training of more than 85,000 apprentices in new or expanded apprenticeship programs and increase apprenticeship opportunities in the U.S.
DOL also announced a new solicitation to award up to $100 million in grant funds authorized by Section 414(c) of the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 for the Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gap grant program. It intends to fund up to 30 apprenticeship grants, with awards ranging from $500,000 to $6 million.
NRCA welcomes this proposal for the development of IRAPs and will be reviewing the proposed rule to determine how it can be used by roofing industry employers to address workforce needs. However, NRCA is concerned the proposed rule—as currently drafted—apparently excludes construction industry employers from participating in the new, more streamlined IRAP. It looks forward to reviewing the proposal in detail, consulting NRCA members and submitting comments to DOL.