Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Sep 18, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, along with Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Promoting Apprenticeships for Credentials and Employment Act (PACE Act), a new bill that would support greater development of registered apprenticeship programs. The PACE Act would help prepare more highly skilled workers for in-demand industries and occupations through heightened awareness of and participation in registered apprenticeship programs.

The PACE Act would better integrate apprenticeships into postsecondary education programs and expand apprenticeship opportunities to new areas, particularly those professions dominated by women. As such, this legislation would promote new career pathways and greater economic security for women and their families.

“This legislation provides workers and job seekers with better access to employment, education, training, and support programs to help them secure good, well-paying jobs,” said Representative Mark Pocan. “It will also improve opportunities for businesses by ensuring hard-working Americans have the skills necessary for today’s most in-demand industries and occupations. Business leaders want this. Hardworking Americans need this. Everyone benefits when our middle class thrives.”

“In today’s dynamic, global economy, there are more pathways to success than ever before. By strengthening apprenticeship programs, this critical legislation will enable young people nationwide to access these new opportunities,” said Representative George Miller. “The PACE Act will not only help young Americans find steady employment now, it will also prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.”

“The PACE Act will help workers and businesses by investing in apprenticeships and increasing the number of skilled workers in growing sectors, which is absolutely critical if we hope to keep our competitive edge in the 21st century global economy.” said Senator Patty Murray. “This bill will build on recent laws, like the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, to increase the number of highly skilled workers in various sectors of our economy. Workers in Washington state and across the country have benefitted from registered apprenticeship programs. These are investments we know have among the highest pay offs for our economy, and I am proud to stand with Rep. Miller, Rep. Pocan, and a strong coalition of businesses, workers, and educators to introduce this bill and keep this important work going.”

“PACE would for the first time provide a legislative foundation, and increased funding, for the Office of Apprenticeship, while also providing the Secretary of Labor more systematic advice on apprenticeship regulatory matters from key stakeholders in the system.” said Sean McGarvey President of North America's Building Trades Unions. “Perhaps most importantly, PACE would provide increased capacity to administer the National Apprenticeship Act at a time when much is expected in terms of high performance skilled workforce development in the American economy.  PACE, if enacted, would help to correct this imbalance between mission and capacity."

“We believe that this is a strong effort to address the nation’s skills gap and build a workforce that can compete and succeed in a global economy,” said Eric Spiegel, CEO, Siemens USA.  “Business-driven and demand-oriented apprenticeship programs allow for the development of skills to evolve with changes in industry.  We applaud Senator Murray and Congressmen Pocan and Miller for introducing legislation that recognizes that real-world training is a catalyst to ensuring that individuals have the skills needed for the jobs of today and the future.” 

The PACE Act builds on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – which, ushered by Murray and Miller, passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support, and was signed into law by President Obama – to help workers attain skills for jobs in the 21st Century economy.

Read the full legislative text of the PACE Act here.

The PACE Act is supported by a variety of business, labor, education, and advocacy groups, including: Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), Siemens, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT),  SEIU Healthcare Northwest Training Partnership, Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC), Jobs for the Future (JFF), Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), AFL-CIO, SEIU, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the Aspen Institute. 

Promoting Apprenticeships for Credentials and Employment Act (PACE Act)

A highly skilled workforce is necessary to compete in the global economy, support economic growth, and maintain the standard of living of the United States.  According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2018 the United States will face a shortage of workers with recognized postsecondary credentials – shortages of 3,000,000 workers with degrees and 4,700,000 workers with certificates.

The registered apprenticeship program model is a longstanding, on-the-job training and education model that prepares workers for the skill demands of particular occupations and employers while, at the same time, providing the workers with recognized, portable credentials, and wages while in training.

Apprenticeships have been successful in skilled trade industries, including construction and manufacturing, as well as service industries, such as health care, and holds great potential for expansion into other industries.

A 2012 evaluation of registered apprenticeship programs by Mathematica Policy Research found that—

  • the tax return on every Federal Government dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs was $27;
  • individuals who completed registered apprenticeship programs earned over $240,000 more over their careers than individuals not participating in such programs; and
  • the estimated social benefits of registered apprenticeship programs exceeded their costs by more than $49,000.

And an evaluation in Washington State found that for each individual who completes a registered apprenticeship program, over the individual’s career, there is a 90-to-1 return on investment, for a total net benefit of just over $300,000 for that career.  Washington State also found that the general public receives a lifetime return on investment of 23-to-1, or around $80,000, for each person completing a registered apprenticeship program.

The PACE Act will:

  • increase the number of highly skilled workers in in-demand industry sectors and occupations;
  • increase the attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials by participants;
  • increase awareness about the value of the registered apprenticeship program model as an effective earn-and-learn model for students, workers, and employers;
  • support the development of registered apprenticeship programs with employers, joint labor management partnerships, and other program sponsors;
  • support the development and expansion of pre-apprenticeship programs that lead to success in a registered apprenticeship program; and
  • support a closer alignment between registered apprenticeship programs, the workforce development system, and postsecondary education, and will promote the awarding of academic credit for the education and training aspects of apprenticeships.