Martin Center column focuses on apprenticeships

Kristiana Bolzman writes for the Martin Center about recent developments related to apprenticeships.

A quick scan of the news confirms that college students spend more on higher education than ever before, but they lack the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace. Apprenticeship programs could offer a promising college alternative, but establishing them can be difficult. That could change, however, as the Department of Labor (DOL) is making it easier for young people to become apprentices.

The Department wants to streamline the process for registering apprenticeships, but to make them an option for more students, the Trump administration needs to allow even more radical apprenticeship expansion.

In June, the DOL proposed its first steps toward reducing the regulatory burden limiting apprenticeship growth. The proposed changes would allow employers to establish their own apprenticeship curriculum for Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) and set their own apprenticeship standards, a process that used to be more heavily controlled by state and federal governments.

But the proposal also introduces new challenges. Employers who want to establish IRAPs, for example, would have to prove to a DOL panel that they have the industry expertise to build a curriculum, show that they have support and input from industry leaders, and demonstrate that they have a plan to maintain their programs.

As if that wasn’t enough, apprenticeship creators (who can be private employers, community colleges, and other organizations) must also apply for re-approval every five years. Effectively, those rules slow down the creation of apprenticeships even as employers need the flexibility to create them easily and quickly.

Young people are clamoring for already-existing apprenticeships.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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