Wednesday, February 17, 2021: Biden Administration Pulls Back on Industry Designed Apprenticeship Programs to Drive Apprenticeships Back to Union-Supported Registered Apprenticeship Programs
Revealing markedly different political views about which kinds of apprentice programs are effective to train America’s apprentices, the Biden Administration released a coordinated three-pronged program to reverse the Trump Administration’s approach to apprenticeship training.
First, The White House issued a “Fact Sheet: Biden Administration to Take Steps to Bolster Registered Apprenticeships”:
Second, President Biden issued an as of yet unnumbered Executive Order rescinding Trump’s EO 13801 and directing federal Executive Branch agencies to promptly consider taking steps to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing the Trump Executive Order.
Note: President Trump had previously issued EO 13801 (titled “Expanding Apprenticeships in America”) to create an industry-designed apprentice program as an alternative to the “Registered Apprenticeships” ETA and national unions in the United States favored. Industry leaders have long argued that the Registered Apprenticeship programs were unnecessarily ponderous, expensive, slow to deliver apprentices and too paperwork heavy. As a result of President Biden’s Executive Order, Registered Apprenticeship Programs are now the only available federally sponsored apprenticeship programs ETA may approve for federal funding.
Third, ETA announced that it had suspended its acceptance and review of new or pending applications for Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) in the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAPs).
According to ETA’s announcement, “the Biden administration is concerned that the IRAP program creates a redundant apprenticeship program, with duplicate and often inferior systems that compete with the highly successful and longstanding Registered Apprenticeship Program. Any proposed changes to the regulation will include a public notice and comment rulemaking. In the past decade alone, the Registered Apprenticeship Program has jump-started the careers of more than 1.9 million U.S. workers in over a thousand occupations ranging from traditional trades like Electrician, Carpenter and Plumber, and newer fields such as Software Developer, Wind Turbine Technician, Cybersecurity Analyst, Hotel Manager, Pharmacy Tech and 5G Wireless Technicians.”
For the moment, the three coordinated actions the Biden Administration launched on Wednesday have no impact on the 27 SREs currently approved. Moreover, all IRAPs which SREs have already recognized may continue to perform their IRAP functions. Finally, previously approved SREs may also continue to recognize additional IRAPs.