On August 26, AGC of America submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed rule to establish a new system for government approval of apprenticeship programs that would operate in parallel with the existing registered apprenticeship system. The new system would provide for recognition of “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs” through an expedited and streamlined process. The proposed rule states that the construction industry would not “initially” be eligible to participate in the new system.
AGC’s comments ask the Department to include thoughtful solutions for all industries, including construction. Given the industry’s significant and widespread labor shortage, it should not be left out. AGC believes that expanding opportunity and access to all training opportunities is an important part of a multifaceted approach to addressing the crisis, and that the Department should promote education and apprenticeship program innovation from all sectors of the industry on an even playing field. While joint labor-management apprenticeship programs are the gold standard for training workers in the industry, high-quality unilateral programs should be eligible for government approval and funding on a fair and impartial basis.
The Department received over 300,000 comments on the rule and is not expected to issue a final rule for several months. This week, AGC released the report of its 2019 workforce survey in which 80% of contractors reported having a hard time filling open positions. Therefore, AGC will continue to look for public policy changes and other solutions to address labor supply and training.