National Apprenticeship Act Is Up For Reauthorization

The National Apprenticeship Act, also known as the Fitzgerald Act, has not been reauthorized since it was first passed by Congress in 1937. A pending 2021 bill introduced by Representative Robert Scott would make significant changes to registered apprenticeship programs (including youth and pre-apprenticeship programs), create a more sustained funding model, and would establish a national framework for engaging employers and expanding opportunities for women, people of color, veterans, and other people who may face barriers to employment.

The bill calls for the federal government to invest more than $3.5 billion in the registered apprenticeship system over the next five years. This includes $400 million for apprenticeship programs in the 2022 fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2021, and increases of $100 million every year through the 2026 fiscal year. The bill also increases funding for state apprenticeship agencies from $75 million a year in 2022 to $115 million in 2026.

The bill provides for the Office of Apprenticeship to enter into an agreement with the Department of Education to promote the integration of apprenticeship programs with secondary, postsecondary and adult education. The bill calls for added resources including grants for broadband internet access, child care and transportation services.

The grants initiative included in the bill, called Modernizing Apprenticeship Programs for the 21st Century, aims to expand apprenticeship beyond the skilled trades and into new occupations and industry sectors including information technology, computer science, energy (including renewable energy), green jobs (including environmental protection and conservation), advanced manufacturing, health care, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, hospitality and tourism, media and entertainment, education (including early childhood education), and cybersecurity.

The bill also provides quality standards for apprenticeship programs, requirements for apprenticeship agreements between program sponsors and apprentices, and acceptable uses for grant funds awarded under the bill.

On February 5, 2021, in a bipartisan 247-173 vote, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is currently in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. If the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 is signed into law, it will become effective on October 1, 2021.

For more information about the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, please contact your trust fund counsel.

By Katharine R. McDonagh | August 25, 2021

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