Kaine co-sponsors bill to boost apprenticeship programs

tim kaineU.S. Senator Tim Kaine co-sponsored legislation to increase the number of workers trained through registered apprenticeships and the competitiveness of our workers and businesses in the global marketplace. The Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2017 creates incentives for businesses and workers to embrace apprenticeship programs by accelerating the adoption of the apprenticeship model and helping businesses refocus on the benefits of training and educating their workers.

“This legislation will help us support apprenticeship programs that play a critical role in building the necessary skilled workforce,” Kaine said. “Apprenticeships help workers develop the skills they need to fill the shortage of workers that employers in Virginia and across the country face.”

Throughout his time in the Senate, Kaine has supported apprenticeship programs as a good way to allow workers to earn an income while they learn, and as a way for companies to increase the skills of their workforce.

According to a study by the Department of Labor, workers who finish apprenticeships earn an average of $240,000 more in wages over a lifetime than job seekers with similar work experience. American companies’ investment in job training and education has declined steadily since the mid-1990’s. U.S companies are only investing half of the amount in job training they did a decade ago. According to a survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, 67 percent of manufacturers reported a shortage of available, qualified workers. According to the National Skills Coalition, fifty-three percent of U.S. jobs are middle skill, meaning that they require some form of postsecondary education and training beyond high school, but not a four year degree. Yet, only 43 percent of U.S. workers are trained at this level.

Specifically, the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2017 would:

  • Create a $5,000 tax credit for up to three years for companies that hire and pay employees enrolled in a federal- or state-registered apprentice program. Additionally, for employers participating in a multi-employer apprenticeship program, the credit rate would be $3 per hour that each individual is working.
  • Allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they’re involved in mentoring or training new employees. Workers must be at least 55, and have reduced work hours to spend at least 20 percent of their time training or educating employees or students.
  • Help veterans get into skilled jobs that match their military experience sooner by allowing credit in apprenticeship requirements for previous military training.

Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, has been a leader in the Senate on efforts to support skills training programs to prepare workers for good-paying, in-demand jobs. In February, Kaine introduced the Gateways to Careers Act to kick-start a grant program to support partnerships between community or technical colleges and workforce development partners. Last year, Kaine introduced the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act to ensure that workers are prepared with the skills needed for jobs in fields like construction, transportation and energy that would be created by a major investment in infrastructure. Last January, Kaine introduced the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act to help workers access Pell Grants for high-quality and rigorous short-term job training programs. Kaine introduced an earlier version of this legislation in 2015.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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