Reading time ( words)
The Trump administration deserves praise for taking steps to encourage new apprenticeship programs, but the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposal to do so needs further refinement, according to IPC comments submitted to the department this week.
IPC welcomes the administration’s focus on workforce development, because a shortage of skilled workers is our industry’s top business concern. More than two-thirds of IPC’s U.S. members report that an inability to find and retain skilled workers is limiting their growth and competitiveness.
In response to our industry’s needs, and spurred on by President Trump’s Pledge to America’s Workers, IPC is making unprecedented investments in its education and training programs to create 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities over the next five years. As part of that effort, IPC plans to introduce new “earn and learn” programs, and thus we are interested in the administration’s apprenticeship push.
In its comments to the DOL, IPC agrees that the private sector is best suited to identify the occupational skills that workers need to succeed, as we are doing under our Job Task Analysis project. However, the qualifications for the entities that would be empowered to set standards for apprenticeship programs are not sufficiently defined to ensure that the most appropriate entities will be given that role, IPC says. IPC recommends that the standards-setting entities be limited to well-established, industry-recognized associations or non-profits.
IPC also calls for apprenticeship program credentials to be portable, competency-based, and industry-recognized, not just certificates of completion.
The DOL proposes to recognize standards-setting entities in sectors that lack significant registered apprenticeship opportunities today. IPC is concerned about the exclusion of any industries from the program, which could result in uneven incentives and results.