June 28, 2019
The U.S. Department of Labor published its long-awaited proposed rule to create a process to expand industry-recognized apprenticeship programs.
DOL would recognize Standards Recognitions Entities (SREs), which would in turn recognize Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) based on criteria outlined by DOL in the proposal.
The SRE classification would be open to a variety of organizations, including trade groups, educational entities, state and local government bodies, unions, nonprofits, and others. The SREs would have to meet certain criteria, such as having the “expertise to set standards through a consensus-based process” for apprenticeships.
The construction and U.S. military industries will initially be left out, according to the DOL’s proposal, as they are “contexts where registered apprenticeship opportunities are already significant."
What it means: With strong direction from the White House, Secretary Alexander Acosta has focused heavily on apprenticeships as a means to curb the skills gap. So far that effort has moved slower than Acosta and the White House had hoped, with reported resistance from career employees within DOL. The administration hopes this announcement will ignite a spark providing new momentum to the initiative.