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Apprenticeship Enhancement Act of 2001, August 2001

The issue

Should the U.S. Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT) and State Apprenticeship Councils (SAC) establish protocol for responding to applications for apprenticeship training program certification/registration?

Why it's important

Many industries across the United States, such as the roofing industry, are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers. Factors contributing to this shortage include an aging work force, worker retirement and lack of new entrants into apprenticeship programs. While the pool of available workers has decreased, the demand for skilled workers to fill those positions has risen from 20 percent of the labor force in 1950 to 65 percent of the labor force in recent years. A projected 50,000 roofing professionals will be needed during the next decade to keep pace with anticipated demand for professional roofing services. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Currently, when an application is made for certification of an apprenticeship training program, there is no formal procedure or timetable for approval or denial. Also, there is no formal recourse for a sponsor to appeal a decision. Delays in the certification process are frustrating union and open-shop sponsors and precluding training opportunities to thousands of potential employees.

The Apprenticeship Enhancement Act of 2001 (HR 1950), introduced in May by Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and 23 bipartisan co-sponsors, will bring accountability to the approval process of apprenticeship programs to allow fair and timely registration. HR 1950 will make the application process more responsive and transparent by requiring BAT or SAC to respond to applications within 90 days of receipt. Decisions will have to be in writing, and applicants will be able to appeal through an internal process with the option of judicial review.

NRCA's position

HR 1950 is important for NRCA members because of the skilled worker shortage. The Apprenticeship Enhancement Act of 2001 will establish a protocol for union and open-shop NRCA members seeking to have their training programs BAT or SAC certified.

The other side

Opponents of HR 1950 are concerned that establishing a time frame for program certification will cause BAT and SAC officials to approve substandard training programs.

(August 2001)





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