A bill to combat workforce challenges was introduced to the U.S. Senate in April. The legislation, titled Training America’s Workforce Act, would revive apprenticeship programs and make them more responsive to industry workforce needs. It would also help individuals obtain industry-specific skills through on-the-job learning and classroom instruction, as well as an industry-recognized credential upon completion of the program.
For the glass and glazing industries, that could mean more on-the-job training and classroom instruction to help eliminate workforce shortages.
“The Training America’s Workforce Act will support the industry-recognized, market-driven apprenticeship programs that many Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) chapters and members use to provide their workers with the skills they need for a successful career,” says Kristen Swearingen, ABC’s vice president of legislative and political affairs. “At a critical time when the construction industry faces an estimated workforce shortage of 650,000 workers in 2022, we know that the flexibility and modern approach these programs offer can provide new opportunities for all of America’s workers.”
The legislation would allow third-party Department of Labor-recognized entities, such as “qualifying trade associations or institutions of higher education,” to recognize and perform oversight of industry-led apprenticeship programs developed by the private sector and other organizations. The bill instructs the Secretary of Labor to establish a process to recognize private and public sector entities as “standards recognition entities” within one year of the legislation’s enactment. That term pertains to entities that are marked by the Secretary of Labor for the purpose of recognizing apprenticeship programs as being industry-recognized.
Those entities will need to establish standards that show their programs would include paid work, on-the-job learning, mentorship, education and classroom instruction, a written training plan and apprenticeship agreement, and more. They would also be required to provide proof of an industry-recognized credential upon completion of programs.
“Quality apprenticeship programs can put young Americans on the path to a lifelong, good-paying job,” says Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). “Rather than imposing a heavy-handed, government-run program, our legislation seeks to expand industry-led workforce development initiatives to get qualified workers into well-paying jobs.”