Cantwell, Collins Introduce Bill to Kickstart American Apprenticeship

Legislation would create $5,000 tax credit, hundreds of thousands of new apprenticeships

U.S. has over 6 million job vacancies, skilled workers needed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to enhance America’s ability to train and educate its workers through registered apprenticeships and increase the competitiveness of our workers and businesses in the global marketplace. Apprenticeship programs are a tried and true model of workforce development, allowing workers to earn while they learn and companies to increase the skills of their workforce.

The Senators introduce their legislation as the White House is expected to unveil a series of announcements promoting apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2017 goes further than these actions, creating a concrete, powerful incentive for businesses and workers to embrace apprenticeship programs, accelerating the adoption of the apprenticeship model and helping businesses refocus on the benefits of training and educating their workers.

“This bill kicks American apprenticeship into high gear by establishing the first ever national incentive for apprentice programs. It will help close our skills gap, get more Americans back to work, raise wages, and allow our companies to continue to make the best products in the world,” said Senator Cantwell. “Expanding apprenticeship has bipartisan support and we hope the Administration will join us in this effort."

“Few issues are as important to the American people as the availability of good jobs in our communities,” said Senator Collins.  “Apprenticeships are a proven way to help workers secure good-paying jobs by providing them with skills that are invaluable to employers.  Our legislation would encourage businesses to pursue this successful model as well as ensure that veterans can apply their previous training to apprenticeship programs.”

American companies’ investment in job training and education has declined steadily since the mid-1990’s. U.S companies are only investing half of the amount in job training they did a decade ago. The Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act would accelerate the expansion of the apprenticeship model in this country by providing a $5,000 tax credit for new registered apprentices hired by American companies.

The apprenticeship model is increasingly necessary today. According to a survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, 67 percent of manufacturers reported a shortage of available, qualified workers. According to the National Skills Coalition, fifty-three percent of U.S. jobs are middle skill, meaning that they require some form of postsecondary education and training beyond high school, but not a four year degree. Yet, only 43 percent of U.S. workers are trained at this level.

Apprenticeship programs benefit both the company and employee. According to a study by the Department of Labor, workers who finish apprenticeships earn an average of $240,000 more in wages over a lifetime than job seekers with similar work experience. According to the Urban Institute, more than 80 percent of U.S. companies that have registered apprenticeships say it is an effective strategy for helping them meet their demand for skilled labor, and 94 percent of employers would recommend registered apprenticeships as a strategy to other employers.

Specifically, Cantwell and Collins’ legislation would:

·         Create a $5,000 tax credit for up to three years for companies that hire and pay employees enrolled in a federal- or state-registered apprentice program. Additionally, employers participating in a multi-employer apprenticeship program, the credit rate would be $3 per hour each individual works.

·         Allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they’re involved in mentoring or training new employees. Workers must be at least 55, and have reduced work hours to spend at least 20 percent of their time training or educating employees or students.

·         Help veterans get into skilled jobs that match their military experience sooner by allowing credit in apprenticeship requirements for previous military training.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

A summary of the bill can be found here.

A section-by-section of the bill can be found here.