Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Susan Davis (D-CA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Senator Tammy Baldwin today introduced Promoting Apprenticeship with Regional Training Networks for Employers Required Skills (PARTNERS) Act of 2019. The bill would establish a grant program to support the creation and expansion of industry and sector partnerships to help small- and medium-sized businesses develop work-based learning programs and supports to ensure workers have access to and succeed in these programs.
Work-based learning programs can address business demand for workers and workers’ skills needs. For small- and medium-sized companies, however, there are often challenges to starting or running these programs. Businesses and communities across the country master these challenges by working together in industry or sector partnerships that bring together multiple employers in a targeted industry with the workforce, education and human service systems to aggregate skills demands across firms and identify training and employment strategies that meet those shared needs.
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.
National Skills Coalition applauds all four Representatives and the Senator for their leadership in expanding access to work-based learning and apprenticeship programs, consistent with the proposals outlined in NSC’s recent brief, Partnering Up: how industry partnerships can bring work-based learning to scale. We look forward to working with the members of Congress to advance this important legislation.