Senators seek tax credits for apprenticeships

By:  Lydia Wheeler
Source: The Hill

A bipartisan group of senators are introducing legislation to create a $5,000 tax credit for employers that provide apprenticeship programs to train workers in high-demand fields.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) unveiled the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015 on Wednesday, hours after President Obama announced that the administration is putting $175 million toward apprenticeship programs across the country.

In addition to the $5,000 credit, employers that participate in a multi-employer apprenticeship program would get the $3 credit rate for each hour an individual works.

It would also allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they’re involved in mentoring or training new employees.  Those workers would have to be at least 55 years old and have reduced work hours to spend at least 20 percent of their time training or educating employees or students.

In a news release, Cantwell said apprenticeship programs are a critical component to closing the skills gap in high growth industries like healthcare, aerospace and information technology.

“When American workers have the training and skills they need, the United States is better equipped to tackle the competitive challenges and opportunities of the 21st century global economy,” she said.

Citing a Department of Labor study, the lawmakers said workers who finish apprenticeships earn an average of $240,000 more in wages over a lifetime than job seekers with similar work experience.