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Expanding Apprenticeship Programs

Sponsored by Sen. Art Linares (CT)

Ratified by the Caucus on Fabruary 24, 2018

WHEREAS, apprenticeship programs allow participants to learn a trade with on-the-job training while earning wages to build financial security; and,

WHEREAS, workers who complete apprenticeships make $301,500 more in their lifetimes than comparable job seekers and average an annual salary of $50,000;[1] and,

WHEREAS, countries such as Switzerland and Germany have been very successful in the implementation of apprenticeship programs as a career path, with specific efforts including mentoring and orientation, and allowing innovative opportunities for young students to participate, and policymakers in the United States should study their best-practices in partnership and coordination with their programs; and,

WHEREAS, businesses cannot currently find all the skilled workers they need, creating a skilled-worker gap in manufacturing, and closing this gap could bring about the employment of an estimated 3.85 million workers by filling vacant positions, facilitating manufacturing growth, and creating new jobs in related industries;[2] and,

WHEREAS, more than 21,000 registered apprenticeship programs currently operate throughout the United States with 1,700 new apprenticeship programs established in FY 2016;[3] and,

WHEREAS, growth of enrollment in apprenticeship programs has increased by approximately 130,000 people since FY 2013;[4] and,

WHEREAS, in FY 2016 more than 206,000 new individuals entered the apprenticeship system with a total of over 505,000 apprentices currently enrolled in programs nationwide;[5] and,

WHEREAS, only 49,000 apprentices graduated from apprenticeship programs nation-wide in FY 2016;[6] and,

WHEREAS, according to a 2013 report by the Workforce Strategies Initiative at the Aspen Institute, although “apprenticeship completion rates vary, it is not uncommon for nearly half of construction apprenticeship agreements initiated in a given year to be cancelled. Of the 121,000 apprenticeship agreements in construction started between 2006 and 2007 from the national data set, 46 percent were cancelled by May 2012.” Over the same period, completion rates were also an issue to varying degrees in other industries, “cancellations ranged from 22 percent in elevator installer and repair apprenticeship programs to 64 percent in roofing programs.” And, although union programs (at 44% cancellation rates) were shown to do better than non-union programs (at 57% cancellation rates), they still reflect the cancellation-rate problem to a troubling level; [7] and,

WHEREAS, according to the same report, for construction apprentices registered between 2006-2007, 49% of minorities cancelled their construction apprenticeships compared to 44% of whites, while 49% of women cancelled their construction apprenticeships compared to 46% of men;[8] and,

WHEREAS, many construction apprentices who are minorities report that they are often subject to hazing or discrimination in the workplace, with 50% of minority women reporting they were discriminated against due to their gender as compared to nearly 40% of non-Hispanic white women;[9] and,

WHEREAS, the Aspen Institute report cited above reveals that many “pre-apprenticeship programs are successful at helping low-income individuals, including women and minorities, prepare for and enter construction apprenticeships. Pre-apprenticeship programs often struggle to find resources, however, to provide long-term support and assistance to apprentices. Ensuring that pre-apprenticeship programs have resources to support apprentices through the first year or two of their apprenticeship will increase their chances of success.”[10] And, there is every reason to believe that the same holds true for apprenticeships in other industries; and,

WHEREAS, for example, the Department of Labor found that, in the state of Oregon, which has a 13% Hispanic population and “has been proactively working to increase diversity in its highway construction workforce since 2009 by providing potential highway construction workers with a variety of supports to help them complete relevant apprenticeships,” the “state’s Highway Construction Workforce Development Program (WDP) provides pre-apprenticeship programs, support services including childcare and transportation subsidies, and mentoring and retention services to help apprentices gain the training and credentials they need, with a particular emphasis on serving female and minority candidates. A 2014 poll of apprentices by WDP found that 80 percent of female active apprentices reported that WDP supports allowed them to take a job they would not otherwise have been able to take, and completion rates for female apprentices who received financial services from the WDP were significantly higher than those who did not receive any services (60.9 percent versus 31.5 percent). Between 2005 and 2013, the share of all heavy highway construction apprentices in Oregon that were female apprentices or apprentices of color increased from 16.5 percent to 26.9 percent, with the program likely playing a significant role in more recent years.;”[11] and,

WHEREAS, despite the above, a 2015 Oregon study underscored that, while important, the pre-apprenticeship programs are not enough on their own. It found that 21% of men of color and 30% of women of color reported feeling disadvantaged on the job due to their race or ethnicity. And, 21% of men of color and 35% of women of color reported problems with journeymen supervisors as a challenge during their apprenticeship. Only 60% of men of color and 38% of women of color reported receiving mentoring on the job while 79% of white men reported receiving mentoring;[12] and,

WHEREAS, the highest paid tier of apprenticeable occupations in fiscal year 2015 had only a 15.6% share of Hispanic enrollments, a 29.4% lower rate than in intermediate paid occupations which had a 22.1% Hispanic enrollment;[13] and,

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Labor updated its Equal Employment Opportunity regulation in 2016, adding categories upon which discrimination is unlawful (which already included ethnicity) to include disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, and discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and gender identity;[14] and,

WHEREAS, Affirmative Action Programs provide opportunities to increase the presence of minorities and women in the workplace; and,

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Labor exempts programs with fewer than five apprentices from developing and maintaining an Affirmative Action Program while programs with five or more apprentices must develop and maintain an Affirmative Action Program;[15] and,

WHEREAS, only 25% of apprenticeship programs in the United States have five apprentices or more, meaning that, currently, 75% of apprenticeship programs do not have to develop Affirmative Action Programs;[16] and,

WHEREAS, the statistics cited above suggest that apprenticeship programs without Affirmative Action Programs have been consistently lacking in recruiting and retaining minorities and women due to a lack of guidance from journeymen, a hostile work environment, and discrimination based on race and/or gender, making it necessary for most or all apprenticeship programs to implement an Affirmative Action Program; and,

WHEREAS, on April 28, 2017, President Donald J. Trump appointed Alexander Acosta as United States Secretary of Labor, with the endorsement of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA); and,

WHEREAS, on June 15, 2017, President Donald J. Trump, signed a Presidential Executive Order titled Expanding Apprenticeships in America which establishes that it “shall be the policy of the Federal Government to provide more affordable pathways to secure, high paying jobs by promoting apprenticeships and effective workforce development programs, while easing the regulatory burden on such programs and reducing or eliminating taxpayer support for ineffective workforce development programs;”[17] and,

WHEREAS, President Trump’s Executive Order seeks to expand and promote apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities to several deserving groups listed in the Order: “America's high school students and Job Corps participants, for persons currently or formerly incarcerated, for persons not currently attending high school or an accredited post-secondary educational institution, and for members of America's armed services and veterans;”[18] and,

WHEREAS, President Trump’s Executive Order establishes a Task Force, that will report strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship programs are insufficient, including: “Federal initiatives to promote apprenticeships; administrative and legislative reforms that would facilitate the formation and success of apprenticeship programs; the most effective strategies for creating industry-recognized apprenticeships; and the most effective strategies for amplifying and encouraging private-sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators urges the President of the United States to keep taking initiatives to support apprenticeship programs across the United States to better enhance, expand, and bolster apprenticeship awareness, and enrollment, and to include in those initiatives efforts to expand diversity and completion; and,

FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators urges Congress and State Governments to take initiatives to support apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the United States and in their individual states in order to better enhance, expand, and bolster apprenticeship awareness, enrollment, diversity, and completion; and,

FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators specifically calls for the Federal Government, Congress, and State and local governments: to promote, support and encourage work-based learning allowing for students in high school to earn credit towards graduation for their time as an apprentice within a business; to work with business to construct a gold standard curriculum for apprentices, benefiting both employer and apprentices; and to encourage Apprenticeship Diplomas upon graduating high school; and,

FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators specifically calls for the Federal Government, Congress, and State and local governments to increase the number of apprentices allowed in businesses. An expansion of the apprenticeship ratio is important so minorities have a greater opportunity for said apprenticeships; and,

FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators urges the U.S. Department of Labor and the Task Force on Apprenticeships created by President Donald J. Trump to take note of the high rates of cancellation and enact initiatives to assist apprentices in completing their apprenticeships by better identifying problems on apprenticeship sites, problems in academic courses, personal struggles that can prevent an apprentice, or discrimination that can prevent an apprentice from completing their program; and,

FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators stands ready to partner with the President’s Task Force on Apprenticeships and with labor unions to promote all the goals stated in this Resolution, ensure the success of this initiative, and expand apprenticeships in America; and,

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators concludes, based on the above, that the current U.S. Department of Labor regulations do not go far enough in requiring Affirmative Action Programs within sufficient apprenticeship programs to create a positive change, and, consequently, calls upon state legislators and state labor departments to enact legislation or regulations whereby all apprenticeship programs with more than one apprentice are required to have an affirmative action program and to adhere to more rigid diversity requirements than currently required under Federal regulations.














[13] Ibid.





[18] Ibid.