Commentary: IPC welcomes Trump apprenticeship program but calls for clarifications
See IPC's commentary it sent to the U.S. Department of Labor regarding its recent proposal of a rule to establish a process for recognizing standards recognition entities and industry-recognized apprenticeship programs
On June 25, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a 51-page proposal of a rule under the National Apprenticeship Act to "establish a process for recognizing standards recognition entities (SREs), which will, in turn, recognize industry-recognized apprenticeship programs." The DoL said the rule describes what entities may become SREs; outlines SRE's responsibilities and requirements, as well as the "hallmarks of the high-quality apprenticeship programs they will recognize," and sets out how the Administrator of the Office of Apprenticeship will interact with SREs. The proposed rule also describes how industry programs would operate in parallel with the existing registered apprenticeship system.
"The Department believes its industry-led, market-driven approach provides the flexibility necessary to scale the apprenticeship model where it is needed most and helps address America's skills gap," the DoL's June announcement summary ended with.
As with all DoL rule proposals, this National Apprenticeship Act rule proposal accepted and posted all public comments, with commentary open from June 25 through Aug. 26. The webpage for this proposal—1205-AB85—shows that it received 325,696 comments from individuals, groups, and associations that addressed their thoughts and concerns of it.
One of those associations that provided commentary was electronics industry association IPC, submitting them Aug. 26. Overall, IPC's commentary discussed how while it welcomes the Trump administration's focus on workforce development, it believes clarifications are needed on several key points that the proposal lays out.
In its comments to the DOL:
- IPC agrees that the private sector is best suited to identify the occupational skills that workers need to succeed. However, the qualifications for SREs are not sufficiently defined to ensure that the most appropriate entities will be given that role. IPC recommends that the standards-setting entities be limited to well-established, industry-recognized associations or non-profits.
- IPC also calls for apprenticeship programs that require learners to acquire portable, competency-based, industry-recognized credentials, not just certificates of completion.
- The DOL proposes to recognize standards-setting entities only in sectors that lack significant registered apprenticeship opportunities today. IPC is concerned about the exclusion of any industries from the program, which could result in uneven incentives and results.