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Pre-employment training and affordable childcare key to broadening the apprenticeship pipeline

  ·   By Melissa Johnson and Katie Spiker
Pre-employment training and affordable childcare key to broadening the apprenticeship pipeline

Policymakers seeking to increase the number of apprentices should focus their investments in pre-employment training like pre-apprenticeship programs and affordable child care, according to a new brief by the National Skills Coalition, Broadening the Apprenticeship Pipeline.  

Apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning can help address the nation’s skills gap, but the U.S. falls far behind competitor nations in using work-based learning to train workers for in-demand, middle skill jobs. To address this underutilization and expand the pipeline of workers with access to work-based learning, U.S. policy should better support pre-apprenticeship programs and affordable child care that help women, parents, and other underrepresented people succeed.

For people who have historically had less access to apprenticeships, like women, pre-apprenticeship programs provide a valuable on-ramp that lays the foundation for success. Underrepresented workers without adequate industry experience often need the occupational skills training, exposure to job sites, and engagement with industry leaders that pre-employment programs provide before they reach the skill level necessary to enter work-based learning programs.

But, training alone may not be enough to ensure success. Significant child care costs can make participation in unpaid pre-apprenticeship programs nearly impossible for parents – nearly a third of the workforce. Pre-apprenticeship programs that provide both training and access to child care can open the door to an apprenticeship pathway for a broad range of workers. Once in an apprenticeship, child care continues to be an important support for ensuring participant success since starting wages are lower than those apprentices can expect to make once they’ve completed their program.

The Moore Community House Women in Construction (WinC) program illustrates the importance of child care to pre-employment and work-based learning participants. WinC is a pre-apprenticeship program in Biloxi, Mississippi, that trains women for apprenticeships and nontraditional career pathways in construction, skilled craft trades, and advanced manufacturing. In 2016, the program received a grant from the state — funded with federal dollars Mississippi receives through its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) state grant — to offer child care to participants and graduates, and a separate grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) to support child care as a retention tool for participants after graduation. Since 2016, WinC enrollment has nearly tripled from nearly sixty women per year to about 180 women per year.

To build on the success of WinC and broaden the apprenticeship pipeline across the nation, this issue brief includes recommendations for both federal and state policymakers. Specifically, Congress and the states should:

  1. Maximize the use of TANF to support pre-employment and child care for work-based learning participants;
  2. Improve alignment between the workforce system and TANF and SNAP recipients; and
  3. Create new work-based learning support funds on both the federal and state levels.


Posted In: Work Based Learning, Work-Based Learning, Mississippi

DOL releases guidance on “industry-recognized” apprenticeship programs

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
DOL releases guidance on “industry-recognized” apprenticeship programs

On July 27th, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued Training and Employment Notice (TEN) 03-18, Creating Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs to Expand Opportunity in America, which outlines the process that will allow trade associations and other non-governmental entities to certify apprenticeship programs as meeting industry standards.

In July 2017, President Trump issued an  Executive Order to Expand Apprenticeship in America (EO), which called for the establishment of an alternative system of industry-recognized apprenticeships that would not require direct approval by a government entity. The proposed process is intended to make it easier for businesses to gain approval for new programs while also supporting the development of quality assurance standards in industries where apprenticeships are not well utilized.  

In the TEN, DOL provides insight in to the process by which a non-governmental entity, like a business association or non-profit intermediary, will be able to qualify as a certifier of industry-recognized apprenticeships and advises organizations interested in playing a certifier role to prepare to submit proposals to DOL. The guidance largely adheres to recommendations from the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, established under the July 2017 EO and whose work culminated in a report to the President earlier this summer.

Distinctions between IRAP and Registered Apprenticeship

Under current law, the U.S. Department of Labor or a state agency registers apprenticeship programs, documenting that the structure of the program’s on-the-job learning, classroom instruction, mentoring and safety components meet certain standards such that successful completion of the program will earn workers a journey-level credential marking their expertise in a certain occupation. These programs are subject to regulations describing the types of occupations for which apprenticeship can be used, structure of training and expertise apprentices need to earn under 29 C.F.R 29 and to detailed rules to promote Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) under 29 C.F.R. 30. Most apprenticeships in the U.S. are – and have been – in the construction industry, with occupations in manufacturing, utilities and transportation sectors also utilizing the training strategy. Occupations in industries like health care, retail, IT and financial services use registered apprenticeship with more frequency in recent years.

The state or federal government oversight required to register a program imbues upon its sponsors certain benefits – several states provide tax credits for registered programs, others support tuition costs and community colleges. Registered programs are automatically eligible to be added to a state’s Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which is intended to make it easier for training providers running apprenticeships to access federal workforce funds. Registered programs are also required to report less information on participants for which they use workforce funds, in part a recognition that an apprentice is, from the first day of a program and unlike other training programs, an employed worker. Congress has also appropriated nearly $250 million in recent years to DOL to support expansion of registered apprenticeship.

The guidance draws explicit and implicit distinctions between registered apprenticeship and industry-recognized:

  • Industry-recognized apprenticeship cannot be used in the construction industry or for military apprenticeships;
  • Industry-recognized apprenticeships will not be automatically eligible for the ETPL;
  • Industry-recognized apprenticeship program participants will not be considered apprentices under Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws; and
  • The guidance includes a vague catch-all that these programs are ineligible for “other statutory benefits” which presumably includes access to Congressionally appropriated funds targeted to registered programs under 29 C.F.R. 29.

Requirements for Certifiers of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs

Most of the guidance focused on the role and responsibility of an entity who certifies that the industry-recognized program meets industry needs. More detail is expected in draft regulations this Fall, however the guidance provides general insight into the direction in which DOL is likely to go in those regulations.

To qualify as a certifier, an organization or consortia will have to show:

  • Sufficient expertise in and engagement with a sector to serve as a qualified certifier. Future regulations will presumably offer a definition of what reaches the level of sufficient expertise, but DOL does recognize that there will likely be multiple certifiers within industry sectors.
  • Ability to provide public information on the programs certified, number of completers of a program, those participants pre- and post-program earnings, length of a program, and “post-apprenticeship employment rate.” The TEN cites to data collection required under WIOA and under rules applied to Registered Apprenticeship as models of necessary information certifiers should be prepared to release.
  • Quality of certified programs, defined as programs including a paid work component, structured on-the-job training, mentorship, training related instruction – with a focus on providing college credit for that instruction – the award of an industry recognized credentials, safe workplaces and “equal employment opportunity.”
  • Several procedural components of their capacity as a certifier such as well-established procedures for certifying programs and impartiality and independence from undue influence in doing so.

NSC supports a focus on paid, high quality work-based learning programs and the collection and dissemination of data on outcomes for participants in these programs and many components in the TEN are consistent with NSC recommendations.

Upcoming regulations, expected this Fall, offer DOL an opportunity to expand on this guidance in a few important ways:

Enable a local focus: While portability is an important component of industry-recognized credentials, NSC encourages DOL to focus on the role local industry partnerships can play in certifying programs that meet local workforce need, particularly through the inclusion in the process of small and medium-sized businesses. The bipartisan PARTNERS Act would support industry partnerships between representatives from the workforce and education systems, multiple businesses and community organizations to expand access to work-based learning. NSC encourages DOL to emphasize the importance of engagement with both national companies and local businesses in establishing the context for “industry-recognized.”

Require disseminated, disaggregated data: NSC supports the alignment of data measures with WIOA performance metrics and the requirement that certifiers release the data on participation and retention for apprentices after completion of their program. We also encourage DOL to require certifiers to collect and make publicly available disaggregated data on these metrics.

Ensure meaningful equal employment opportunity in industry-recognized apprenticeship: DOL defines a certifier’s role in ensuring EEO as requiring sponsors to engage in outreach and recruitment strategies to “diverse” populations, adhering to existing EEO laws, and designating a person with responsibility for monitoring these efforts. These are all important components to ensuring equity in apprenticeship but are far from sufficient. Given task force recommendations that regulations governing EEO in registered programs do not apply to industry-recognized and the absence of explicit application to programs in the TEN, industry-recognized programs will likely not be required to meet the standards required by 29 C.F.R. 30. The rules in this section were recently updated to require more targeted analysis of potential workers in an apprenticeship program, with a focus on how programs are creating equal opportunity for women, people of color and people with disabilities. Integrated and intentional EEO requirements from the formation of the new industry-recognized apprenticeship system could help prevent the inequities that currently plague registered apprenticeship, where only seven percent of apprentices are women and where people of color earn significantly lower wages and complete programs and significantly lower rates than white men.

In addition to meaningful EEO requirements, NSC encourages DOL to require certifiers to ensure that apprentices have access to and success in apprenticeship programs by working with sponsors to provide workers access to supports like child care, transportation and pre-apprenticeship training. The bipartisan BUILDS Act would provide support for services like these that help a diverse set of workers succeed in apprenticeship.

Establish quality control mechanisms for certifiers: Upcoming regulations also offer DOL the opportunity to provide a detailed mechanism for enforcing certifier requirements. NSC encourages DOL to include enforcement and monitoring mechanisms that enable accurate and continuous evaluation of certifier efficacy in meeting the needs of both businesses and workers in upcoming draft regulations, expected this fall.

Next steps on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeships

Interested entities can submit to be qualified as a certifier “shortly”, which is likely to be after the release of draft regulations providing more insight on the rules governing industry recognized apprenticeships. DOL is currently accepting comments and statements of interest in becoming a certifier at apprenticeship@dol.gov.

While DOL does not describe funding availability in the TEN for certifiers, earlier this month the agency announced a call for applications for $150 million in funds to support the expansion of industry recognized system. Partnerships between educational institutions and business associations or consortia of businesses are eligible for that funding, for which applicants will help businesses set up and run industry-recognized apprenticeship programs. Applications are due October 16th, 2018. DOL also released almost $1 million in funding available to community-based organizations to provide technical assistance to help expand women’s access to apprenticeship and non-traditional occupations through the latest iteration of the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grants. WANTO applications are due August 16th, 2018.

NSC will continue to work with our partners across the country and Apprenticeship Forward national partners to provide DOL and Congress with recommendations to implement high-quality apprenticeship programs that meet business demand and worker need.

Posted In: Work Based Learning

DOL releases funding to expand apprenticeship and work-based learning

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
DOL releases funding to expand apprenticeship and work-based learning

Earlier today, DOL announced the availability of $150 million in Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grants to support partnerships between institutions of higher education and business associations’ work to expand apprenticeship and work-based learning in in-demand fields. The solicitation includes a strong focus on sector-based, industry-driven strategies that can expand business’ capacity to run work-based learning programs and diversify and broaden the pipeline of workers with access to and success in these programs.

Successful applicants will be eligible for $1-$12 million over four years and DOL anticipants funding up to thirty partnerships to support programs in IT, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services and educational services. Each applicant will identify goals of serving between 800-5,000 apprentices, depending on the amount of funding for which they will apply.  

The solicitation today follows a 2017 Executive Order to Expand Apprenticeship in which the President tasked DOL with implementing a new system of industry recognized apprenticeships, in part by allocating funds under the H-1B visa account to support this expansion consistent with today’s solicitation. The EO also tasked DOL, Department of Education and Department of Commerce with convening a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. Meeting over the past year, the Task Force was comprised of Governors, business leaders, and representatives from industry associations, labor and community college. Their work culminated in a report to the President earlier this year with recommendations on expanding apprenticeship, reiterating the call for using H-1B funds to support this expansion.

In building on the EO and Task Force’s recommendations, today’s solicitation includes several critical allowable uses of funds consistent with NSC prioritiesbuilding partnerships to lower barriers to apprenticeship expansion for small and mid-sized companies, collecting data and measuring impacts of programs to ensure quality, providing support services like childcare and transportation that can improve success for a diverse pipeline of workers, funding pre-apprenticeship programs that can be a key onramp to apprenticeship for low-skill and underrepresented populations and upskilling incumbent workers.

The solicitation would require grants to go to partnerships between institutions of higher education (IHEs) and national industry associations or consortia of businesses. IHEs are crucial partners in apprenticeship programs and NSC released a report earlier today on the importance of supporting partnerships between community colleges and industry representatives. And while apprenticeship is certainly one program on which these partnerships can collaborate, NSC advocates for support for partnerships with a wide range of skills training goals.  

While crucial partners, higher education should be among numerous entities – including industry associations themselves, the workforce system, labor-management partnerships and community-based organizations – eligible for future funding to support the expansion of apprenticeships. Under the bipartisan PARTNERS Act, states would grant funding to local industry partnerships comprised of representatives from industry and education providers together with the workforce system, labor-management partnerships and other community partners. Today’s solicitation is consistent with the PARTNERS Act – and a strong first step in expanding local, robust, industry-driven partnerships that support work-based learning – but leaves room for further expanding the partners represented in these partnerships.

The solicitation also applies a definition of apprenticeship previewed in the Task Force on Apprenticeship’s report to the president which is likely to be the definition the administration continues to apply to Industry Recognized Apprenticeship. Under the definitions, programs would qualify for funding (and qualify as an “apprenticeship”) if they include the following components:

  1. Paid work-based component
  2. On-the-job training and mentorship
  3. Training-related instruction
  4. Culminating in an industry-recognized credential
  5. And including safety, supervision and EEO protections

This is a relatively robust definition that includes most of the components for which NSC, and our partners, have advocated. It certainly meets the definition we’ve advocated for work-based learning. It misses an important component that often distinguishes apprenticeship from other work-based learning programs, however – that a worker earns increases in wages as their skills increase. This wage and skill progression provides a predictable path for both workers and businesses at the foundation of apprenticeship.

Today’s solicitation comes in the lead up to a White House convening on job training, scheduled for Thursday July 19th. At least 15 business leaders, along with numerous other industry representatives and policy makers, will join the President as he signs an Executive Order on job training and are expected to announce a set of commitments to training workers. The Executive Order will direct agency leadership to form an inter-agency working group focused on job training, the National Council for the American Worker. It will also create an advisory committee for the administration comprised of representatives from businesses, postsecondary education, state policy makers and the philanthropic community.

Both strategies are consistent with NSC priorities, and we look forward to working with representatives in both capacity.

Given the administration’s calls to drastically cut workforce programs and a proposal last month to consolidate the Departments of Education and Labor, the administration’s continued focus on consolidating workforce programs raises concerns, however. Congress has rejected the administration’s proposals, providing much need funding increases for many workforce and education programs last year, and local and state workforce systems continue to implement innovative, industry-driven programming. 

NSC will continue to work with partners across the country and policy makers to support expanded access to work-based learning – including apprenticeship – and to ensure continued support for vital workforce and education programs that help meet business demand and worker need.

Posted In: Federal Funding, Work Based Learning
Senate Appropriations Committee advances Labor-HHS bill with increased funding for apprenticeship and adult basic education

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced their Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill. With their vote yesterday, the Senate has now advanced all 12 of their funding bills for FY 2019.

The Senate version of the bill included level funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state formula grants and national programs. It also provided level funding for Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants. The Senate bill would increase funding for apprenticeships by $15 million, $10 million more than the FY 2019 House bill. The Senate version also maintained a limitation that this funding only applies to registered apprenticeship programs, a limitation excluded from this year’s House bill. Committee report language in both the House and Senate recognize the importance of investing in local, industry driven partnerships as a foundation of apprenticeship expansion. This strategy is consistent with the bipartisan PARTNERS and BUILDS Acts.

The Senate Labor-HHS bill would increase funding for Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants by $25 million over FY 2018 levels, up to $641,955,000, and level fund Career and Technical Education State Grants. The House bill would level fund adult education, instead providing Career and Technical Education State Grants with an increase of almost $115 million over FY 2018 levels.

The House remains stalled after the Appropriations’ Labor-HHS Subcommittee advanced a partisan bill on party lines two weeks ago, with full committee mark up of the bill having been delayed now twice. For more background, see earlier updates on the FY 2019 appropriations process here and here.




FY 2018 Omnibus

FY 2019 House Labor-HHS Bill

FY 2019 Senate Labor-HHS Bill

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants




WIOA Adult




WIOA Dislocated Worker




WIOA Youth




Wagner-Peyser Employment Service Grants




Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants




Apprenticeship Grants




DW National Reserve




Native American Programs




Ex-Offender Activities




Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers








Senior Community Service Employment Program




Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants




Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants





Posted In: Federal Funding, Adult Basic Education, Work Based Learning
Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion report calls for industry-driven expansion focus coupled with detrimental cuts to workforce programs

On May 10th, the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion submitted a report with their recommendations on expanding apprenticeship in the U.S. to the President. The report includes some important recommendations focused on industry-driven strategies, but also continues a disturbing pattern of calls for cuts to vital workforce programs. In our recommendations on expanding apprenticeship last year, NSC urged the administration to focus on strengthening the workforce and education systems that are the foundation of any apprenticeship expansion in this country instead of cutting investments to these systems.

The task force report is based on the work for four subcommittees over the past year and was called for by the President in his June 2017 Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeship in America. Each subcommittee made a series of recommendations to the President in the May 10th report.

Subcommittee on Education and Credentialing

  • This subcommittee focused on the components of an industry recognized apprenticeship program (IRAP), which includes blended learning, industry recognized skills, mentorship, paid work experience and portable industry recognized credentials. The subcommittee’s recommendation would not require wage progression for apprentices that correspond with their growing skill level.
  • The subcommittee also called for Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education (Ed) to be partners with industry, supporting costs of instruction by increasing access to virtual learning and developing open source core curriculum. 

Subcommittee on Attracting Business to Apprenticeship

  • This subcommittee recommended a robust analysis of the skill shortages and the role apprenticeship can play in meeting business skill demands.
  • The subcommittee also recommended the Departments of Labor, Education and Commerce develop a centralized online community with apprenticeship resources.

Subcommittee on Expanding Access, Equity and Career Awareness

  • This subcommittee recommended launching an awareness campaign, supporting pre-apprenticeship, and promoting the use of technology in apprenticeship programs.
  • The subcommittee also recommended “ensuring equity.” This recommendation would have the Department of Labor implement clear guidelines “that reinforce the principles of equity,” but does not set out what these principles should be.

Subcommittee on Administrative and Regulatory Strategies to Expand Apprenticeship

  • This subcommittee recommended IRAP implementation begin with a pilot program focused on an industry without a well-established registered apprenticeship system.
  • The subcommittee also suggested the system should focus on competency, not seat time requirements, consistent with the administration’s focus on competency-based registered apprenticeship. 

In addition to the recommendations above, several subcommittees focused on proposed reforms to the registered apprenticeship system and sought guidance from DOL on how the new IRAP system would interact with the workforce system.

DOL is expected to release guidance on the IRAP certification process in the coming weeks, which is likely to incorporate the task force recommendations. This guidance will focus on how an entity will qualify to certify programs and the role a certifier will play.

Upcoming guidance won’t include all the specifics about the creation or operation of industry-recognized apprenticeships. It will, however, provide insight into future regulation, expected this fall. DOL is expected to release revisions to the regulations covering registered apprenticeships (29 CFR 29) in September to “establish guidelines for third parties to certify high-quality, industry recognized apprenticeship programs.”

Earlier this year, Congress appropriated $145 million to apprenticeship expansion, specifically focused on registered apprenticeship. DOL is tasked with submitting a report to Congress by September 30th 2018 describing their allocation of these funds. Over the past two years, DOL has allocated more than $100 million to 36 states to expand innovating apprenticeship strategies. Appropriated funds have also been used to support industry and equity intermediary contracts to national organizations working with apprenticeship sponsors and businesses to expand apprenticeship. DOL has used remaining funds appropriated in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 for contracts to build out online resources on apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship, consistent with the task force recommendations.

NSC looks forward to working with both Congress and the administration on policies that support the expansion of high-quality, structured apprenticeship that meets the needs of a diverse pipeline of apprentices and businesses, including small and medium-sized companies.  


Posted In: Work Based Learning

Administration action on industry certified apprenticeship likely next week

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
Administration action on industry certified apprenticeship likely next week

Last summer, the President signed an Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeship in America. Since then, the Department of Labor has been at work on implementing the content of the order – appointing and convening members of a task force to develop recommendations on implementing the new “Industry Recognized Apprenticeship” system, drafting guidance and regulations on what the new system will look like, allocating $95 million Congress appropriated to apprenticeship last year and the about $100 million the EO directs them to spend on this initiative.

The task force is scheduled to meet for the third time next week, and the administration could release guidance and announce their spending plans to coincide with the meeting.

The guidance will likely focus on how an entity would qualify as a certifier of the new industry-recognized apprenticeships and the role of the certifier in the new system. While it won’t include all the specifics about the creation or operation of an industry-recognized apprenticeship system, it will help us think about what the administration is likely to propose in future regulations.   

Last fall, we released recommendations to the task force and administration for implementing the EO in a way that  diversifies the pipelines of workers who can access and succeed in apprenticeship, while ensuring that a broad range of businesses – including small and medium sized employers – are able to take advantage of these earn and learn models. 

When the administration releases this first piece of guidance, we’ll be looking at how well it aligns with our recommendations.

  • Does the guidance enable and solicit robust and transparent feedback from diverse stakeholders?
  • Is there a role for local and regional entities to contribute to the certification process, in partnership with national organizations?
  • How will certifiers promote quality standards within apprenticeships that benefit both workers and businesses?
  • What recruitment and retention strategies will certifiers need to uphold to promote a diverse pipeline of apprentices?
  • Which data are certifiers able or required to collect on programs?


In addition to offering feedback on the upcoming guidance around the certification role and process, the task force has divided into four subcommittees to make recommendations to the administration on other aspects of the industry recognized apprenticeship system (promoting equity, regulatory strategies, attracting businesses, and credentialing). The task force members are scheduled to wrap up their work by May.

At the same time, DOL is also allocating the $95 million in funds Congress appropriated last year to support expanding apprenticeship and $100 million the EO directs to be spent. Half of the appropriated funding is likely to go to states to continue existing grants. About $20 million will go to update technology and market apprenticeship. And almost $14 million has been spent on contracts with national intermediaries working to expand apprenticeship to either a diverse pipeline of workers or new industries.  It’s difficult to predict how the administration will use the $100 million identified in the EO to support industry-certified apprenticeship before a system is established. It seems likely, however, they would combine any guidance with a grant program that supports the strategies identified in that guidance.

NSC will offer analysis of how well the framework for this new system, and the funding to support it, integrates the guidance we offered last year as the administration continues their efforts. You can read NSC’s full recommendations here.

As we anticipate these announcements, NSC is engaging our network of experts on work-based learning and apprenticeship through our National Advisory Panel on Work-Based Learning for Adults and Youth. Over the coming year, the advisory panel will guide and inform NSC’s work on the expansion of a broad spectrum of work-based learning activities, including apprenticeship. Our goal is to diversify a pipeline of workers with ability to access and succeed in high-quality work-based learning opportunities and to support a broad range of businesses – including small- and medium-sized businesses – in developing and running these same programs.

You can read more about our federal policy proposals to support this goal in our Skills for Good Jobs Agenda for 2018. It includes summaries of the PARTNERS Act and BUILDS Act, both bipartisan bills to support the expansion of work-based learning, and a new proposal we’ve developed on expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include a credit for businesses offering work-based learning opportunities to WOTC targeted populations.   And you can urge your members to champion these policy solutions here.

NSC and New America also continue to convene the Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative, a group of national organizations focused on expanding apprenticeship to a diverse pipeline of workers and businesses – including small- and medium-sized businesses – in a range of industries. You can find a full list of partners and recap from our 2017 conference on the Apprenticeship Forward website here.

NSC looks forward to continuing work with the administration, Congress, and our national, state and local partners to expand apprenticeship and work-based learning to help workers develop skills to meet business demand.


Posted In: Work Based Learning

The 2018 Skills Summit and the future of work

  ·   By Jessica Cardott
The 2018 Skills Summit and the future of work

(Main photo: Skills Summit’s Indiana Delegation with Sen. Todd Young)

This year’s Skills Summit, NSC’s big tent convening, took place February 5-7 with nearly 350 stakeholders from 36 states. Attendees were invited to reflect on the policy successes of the past year and visualize the future of America’s workforce.

What we’ve achieved, what remains to be done

Attendees prepared for advocating on Capitol Hill with two days of rigorous policy deep dives into the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda. The agenda was developed by the Coalition in late 2016 to provide a strategic skills policy roadmap for the incoming administration. Our last year of advocacy has made significant impact, with 8 of the 12 legislative proposals of the Skills For Good Jobs Agenda being currently introduced in Congress, with one of those key policies – the JOBS Act – receiving vocal support from the administration as well.  With bipartisan support on the majority of these bills, the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda is well positioned to shape our nation’s skills policies.

Members of Congress show their support

Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR) discussing the PARTNERS Act (HR 4115)

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1st) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3rd) took the stage together on the second day to share why they came to be bipartisan co-sponsors of the PARTNERS Act. Both legislators shared their personal commitment to the work and reflected on how support for industry partnerships works as a bipartisan effort.

Sen. Hassan at the Expanding Postsecondary Pathways for Working Adults Hill Briefing

Timing was everything at the Skills Summit this year. Sen. Hassan (D-NH) announced the introduction of the Gateway to Careers Act in the company of Summit attendees during the Skills Summit Hill briefing on expanding postsecondary career pathways for working adults. The House of Representatives version of the BUILDS Act was introduced by Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI-10th) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) during the Summit as well.

Looking into the future

The content of the Skills Summit offered practical and actionable strategies to move policy on Capitol Hill, but also left room for thinking about the United States’ workforce development path more broadly.  NSC Chief Executive Officer Andy Van Kleunen facilitated a plenary on the future of work with leaders in the field including Denis McDonough, former White House Chief of Staff for the Obama Administration, Portia Wu, the Director of Workforce Policy at Microsoft, Scott Paul, the President of Alliance for American Manufacturing, and Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development for California’s Community Colleges.


Video of the Future of Work plenary can be found here.

Attendees concluded the Skills Summit by bringing their local stories to Capitol Hill. Altogether, Summit-goers logged over 200 individual meetings with legislative offices.  In the history of the coalition’s advocacy, we’ve never gone to the hill with a more cohesive menu of actionable ideas, incorporating post-secondary education, industry partnerships, data transparency, immigration and welfare supports into our strategic recommendations. In today’s divisive political climate, the bipartisan nature of the Skills for Good Jobs Agenda offers a clear path to growing the economy by investing in people, so that every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper.

Champions and sponsors

NSC recognized coalition members whose talent and dedication allow us to move the needle on skills policy:

  • Our Skills Champion award for outstanding federal advocacy went to Pat Steele of Central Works Iowa.
  • The Power NAP-per award for outstanding contribution to an NSC National Advisory Panel (NAP) was given to Mark Kessenich of WRTP/BIG STEP, Wisconsin.
  • Our Road Warriors award for tireless advocacy in the face of a commute to DC was given to WES Global Talent Bridge in New York.
  • Kwee Lan Teo of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texas was given the Taking Care of Business award for mobilizing the business voice to advocate for skills policy.
  • The Partners in Crime award was given to National Council for Workforce Education for their inspired collaboration with NSC throughout 2017.

NSC would like to thank this year’s Skills Summit sponsors, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Siemens Foundation and Walmart.  Without their support, this event would not be possible.

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Tax Policies, Sector Partnerships, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Work Based Learning, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

NSC releases new recommendations to update the Work Opportunity Tax Credit

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
NSC releases new recommendations to update the Work Opportunity Tax Credit

On December 7, National Skills Coalition released a new brief, Opportunity Knocks: How expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit could grow businesses, help low-skill workers, and close the skills gap.

Businesses continue to struggle to find workers, and at the same time millions of low-skill workers lack the training to meet those business needs. Work-based learning programs offer one strategy for businesses to skill-up workers, while providing those workers with access to a paying job. These programs, however, are expensive – particularly when participants may need additional supports to ensure success or a longer training pathway to reach full productivity. Tax credits can help support businesses as they build out work-based learning programs, however there is no current tax credit that focuses on the costs businesses incur when providing work-based learning for low-skill workers.

To address this need, policymakers should expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to support businesses providing work-based learning to populations currently targeted under the tax credit.

WOTC provides credits of up to $9,600—totaling nearly $1 billion claimed by employers each year—to companies for hiring workers such as veterans, the long-term unemployed, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) recipients.

By updating WOTC to provide an additional credit for businesses who hire and train workers from these target populations, the credit can help businesses build a pipeline of workers and help workers access skills they need.

Specifically, policymakers should update WOTC in the following ways:

  • Authorize a tax credit for each worker, from WOTC targeted populations, who participates in a work-based learning program;
  • Add a definition of “qualifying work-based learning program;”
  • Update the WOTC certification process to better enable businesses to enroll participants in work-based learning programs; and
  • Allow organizations without tax liability to apply the credit to payroll taxes for work-based learning participants.

NSC releases this brief as Congress continues tax reform negotiations. Both the House and Senate have passed tax reform bills and are currently working to reconcile these bills into one package with enough support to pass in both chambers. The House version of the tax reform bill would repeal the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, while the Senate version would leave WOTC unchanged. WOTC currently authorized through 2019. 

Posted In: Tax Policies, Work Based Learning

NSC and New America, with 11 national partners, launch Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative

  ·   By NSC's Katie Spiker and New America's Mary Alice McCarthy,
NSC and New America, with 11 national partners, launch Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative

National Skills Coalition and New America, along with 11 national partners committed to expanding U.S. apprenticeship, are launching the Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative. The group will collect and share information on emerging trends and best practices in apprenticeship from across the country. We will highlight how apprenticeship can break into new industry sectors and serve a more diverse population of learners and workers.

 The Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative builds on the success of the May 2017 Apprenticeship Forward conference, which brought together over six hundred practitioners, policymakers, and apprenticeship advocates for a wide-ranging conversation on opportunities to expand American apprenticeship. The conference revealed a vibrant and increasingly diverse field of apprenticeship and a desire to build strong connections across different industry sectors, population groups, and geographic regions.

 The Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative will work to strengthen connections across the apprenticeship community and build greater public awareness and support for apprenticeship programs. Over the course of the next year, the Collaborative will organize information-sharing sessions among member organizations, host public events in different parts of the country that feature local programs and practitioners, and brief policymakers on opportunities to support apprenticeship. We will engage apprenticeship experts, businesses and educators, government agencies, as well as the broader public to take advantage of the broad and growing interest in apprenticeship models.

 Our partners in the Collaborative reflect the diverse stakeholders and communities currently working to expand American apprenticeship and include the following organizations:

Stay tuned to our Twitter feeds @NewAmericaEd and @SkillsCoalition for updates on our work and events schedule. We hope you’ll join the conversation, too, by tweeting with #ApprenticeshipForward.


Posted In: Work Based Learning

Reps. Bonamici and Ferguson introduce bipartisan PARTNERS Act

  ·   By Katie Spiker,
Reps. Bonamici and Ferguson introduce bipartisan PARTNERS Act

On October 25, Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Drew Ferguson (R-GA) introduced the bipartisan Promoting Apprenticeship with Regional Training Networks for Employers Required Skills (PARTNERS) Act of 2017. The bill would support partnerships between businesses and other local workforce stakeholders to enable small- and medium-sized employers to develop and expand – and workers to succeed in – work-based learning programs.

Work based learning, including apprenticeship, provides individuals with paid, on-the-job work training and experience.  For companies in desperate need of new workers, work-based learning immediately puts motivated hires on site. The approach has been shown to reinforce employee engagement, leading to better morale, higher retention and lower turnover. And it can help increase workplace diversity by offering a structured way for community residents to build careers with local firms. Workers, meanwhile, obtain market-driven skills and can “learn while they earn.”  

Businesses—especially small- and medium-sized businesses—often lack the infrastructure to establish apprenticeships or work-based learning programs on their own, however. Industry or sector partnerships can help reduce the burdens on businesses and by convening local stakeholders to collaboratively develop training related instruction, support services, and on-the-job training components of a work-based learning program.

Under the PARTNERS Act, industry and sector partnerships would receive grants of up to $500,000 for two years. Recipients would convene necessary partners and coordinate a set of business services to help small- and medium-sized businesses develop and run work-based learning programs. Partnerships would also coordinate worker support services to improve worker retention and success.

Business engagement activities could include:

  • Assistance navigating registration process for apprenticeship;
  • Connecting businesses with education providers to develop classroom instruction to complement on-the-job learning;
  • Development of curriculum design of the on-the-job component of a program;
  • Service as employer of record during a transitional period for participants entering work-based learning programs;
  • Providing training to managers and front-line workers to aide in their provision of mentoring or training to work-based learning participants;
  • Recruitment of individuals to participate in the work-based learning programs, particularly individuals receiving additional workforce and human services.

Support services that help keep workers on the job could include:

  • Connecting participants with adult basic education;
  • Connecting participants with pre-work-based learning training, including through pre-apprenticeship programs;
  • Providing connections to transportation and child care services;
  • Developing mentorship opportunities; and
  • Providing tools, clothing, and other required items necessary to start employment.

Representatives Bonamici and Ferguson spoke on the floor this morning about the PARTNERS Act and they are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter on the bill. 

National Skills Coalition applauds Representatives Bonamici and Ferguson for their leadership in expanding access to work-based learning and apprenticeship programs, consistent with the proposals outlined in our New Skills for Good Jobs Agenda. We look forward to working with the members of Congress to advance this important legislation.

Posted In: Work Based Learning
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