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Pocan Introduces Bill to Strengthen Apprenticeships for New Wave of Working People

Oct 31, 2019
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), today introduced the Leveraging Effective Apprenticeships to Rebuild National Skills (LEARNS) Act. The LEARNS Act would increase the number of skilled workers in the United States and strengthen registered apprenticeship programs as an effective earn-and-learn model for students, workers, and employers.

“The LEARNS Act is an investment in the economic power of millions of people across the country—ensuring everyone has the tools and resources they need to secure living wages and quality jobs,” said Representative Mark Pocan. “By strengthening registered apprenticeship programs and preparing workers for permanent employment, we can create a definitive link between training programs and employment, while offering employers access to the skilled workforce they need. Wisconsin was the first state to establish a law creating an apprenticeship program, and we’ve seen the successes of that initiative for over 100 years. It’s time we build on that achievement and give more workers and employers nationwide the same resources and opportunities.”

Over the next decade, 45% of all jobs will be classifiable as “middle-skill” occupations—positions which require more than a high school diploma, but don’t necessitate a bachelor’s degree. Registered apprenticeship programs hold the key to preparing a new wave of working people for these jobs and ensuring all people have the adequate resources for economic stability. The registered apprenticeship program model has proven success in skilled trades and service industries for both workers and employers, with every dollar invested in a craft apprenticeship yielding up to $3 in return for employers.        

"The men and women of the IUPAT thank and personally commend, Rep. Pocan for his ongoing fight for working families, and for his leadership in introducing the LEARNS Act,” Kenneth Rigmaiden, General President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. “With well over 100 years’ experience in building our great nation, the skilled crafts men and women of the Building Trades know that an apprenticeship is the gateway to a safe and successful career, that creates more than upward mobility it addresses the growing need for skilled labor in our nation’s expanding markets. The passage of the LEARNS Act will ensure that the American workforce will learn the necessary and portable skills to meet the specific demands of employers and entire industries through qualified apprenticeship programs."  

“Apprenticeships are essential to expanding economic opportunity for millions of American workers,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. “The biggest economic challenge of our time is that people are in jobs that do not pay them enough to keep up with the rising costs of healthcare, child care, housing, and education. The LEARNS Act takes this problem head on by investing to ensure more workers can get the skills and tools they need to succeed. I am proud to join Congressman Pocan in this effort on behalf of working families and the middle class.”

The LEARNS Act will:

  • Creates national standards for registered apprenticeship programs.
  • Increases the attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials by program participants.
  • Supports a closer alignment between registered apprenticeship programs, employers, educational institutions, and other program sponsors offering good jobs.
  • Establishes a permanent advisory council at the Department of Labor, bringing employers, labor unions, and state apprenticeship agencies together to oversee the actions and implementation of registered apprenticeship programs.

Original cosponsors on this legislation include Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), André Carson (D-IN), Andy Levin (D-MI), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Brenda Lawrence  (D-MI), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Cindy Axne (D-IO), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Darren Soto (D-FL), David Scott (D-GA), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Debbie Dingell  (D-MI), Derek Kilmer  (D-WA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Gregorio Killi Camacho Sablan (D-MP), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jason Crow (D-CO),  Jim Langevin (D-RI), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Joe Morelle (D-NY), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Max Rose (D-NY), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Pete Visclosky (D-IN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY).

The legislation is also supported by a variety of business, labor, education, and advocacy groups, including: Association for Career and Technical Education, The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), The AFL-CIO, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Service Employees International Union (SEIU).