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House passes major workforce development legislation

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The House voted Friday to pass legislation focused on strengthening apprenticeship programs and expanding workforce development opportunities.

The National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 includes initiatives led by Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger to create a new apprenticeship agreement between the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education, and to strengthen funding for successful partnerships between community colleges and local businesses.

The bill authorizes $3.5 billion to expand apprenticeship opportunities and access. Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) teach workers in-demand skills and help them achieve fulfilling employment opportunities.

According to the Department of Labor, 94 percent of people who complete a Registered Apprenticeship are employed after completion and earn an averaging starting salary of $70,000.

This bill would yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to taxpayers by increasing worker productivity and decreasing spending on public assistance and unemployment insurance.

“In Central Virginia and across the country, apprenticeships help the next generation of Americans acquire the necessary skills to launch their careers and stay competitive in a global economy. Even after the wave of this pandemic passes, the economic impact on working families across our country will linger,” Spanberger said. “We need to make sure high school and college students have access to the apprenticeship programs they need to secure employment. I’m proud to see several of the provisions I worked on included in this final bill, and I will continue to support practical legislation that strengthens the relationships between Virginia’s community colleges, high schools, and local employers.”

Spanberger introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Our Youth Apprenticeships Act last month, alongside Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02).

Her legislation was included in the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, which also had the backing of Second District Democrat Elaine Luria.

“In today’s economy, it is vital to promote a variety of paths toward employment to put our workforce in a stronger position to thrive,” Luria said. “Registered Apprenticeship Programs have a proven track record of successful outcomes, and it is more important than ever to expand access to these opportunities as we face an unprecedented economic crisis. I am pleased to support this bill to make an overdue investment in our nation’s workers.”

augusta free press
augusta free press