Kaine introduces Senate legislation to promote apprenticeships

tim kaineToday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s workforce development system through high-quality, registered apprenticeship programs. The EARNS Act would support pre-apprenticeship programs as well as new or expanding programs that provide nationally recognized credentials and help secure academic credit for on-the-job learning portions of an apprenticeship.

“Throughout my life, I’ve seen how effective apprenticeships can be in preparing students and workers for high-skilled jobs and supporting local economies,” said Kaine. “Many apprenticeship programs in Virginia – including The Apprentice School in Newport News – are just as selective as prestigious institutions of higher education, underscoring their importance and high demand. I’m pleased this legislation would provide the Office of Apprenticeship at the Department of Labor with the resources it needs to better promote apprenticeship programs across the country. Apprenticeship programs provide a great opportunity to close the skills-gap and ensure the nation’s workforce is prepared for the 21st century economy.”

The EARNS Act builds on a proven model supported by clear evidence of success. A 2012 evaluation of registered apprenticeship programs by Mathematica Policy Research found that the tax return on every public dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs was $27. It further found that individuals who completed registered apprenticeship programs earned over $240,000 more over their careers than individuals not participating in such programs.

“The American Apprenticeship Round Table is pleased that Senator Tim Kaine is co-sponsoring theEARNS Act.  Many of the reasons why companies outsource jobs and contracts for manufactured products are caused by the shortage of technically trained and skilled workers in America’s workforce.  To close the skills gap, some businesses have found ways to partner with their local community college and offer apprenticeships.  Gaining legitimate work experience while obtaining a college education provides a value-added experience, but it’s not replicated nearly enough in our country.  This is why the EARNS Act comes at an opportune time.  It offers our legislators yet another opportunity to direct funding toward industry‐based partnerships through apprenticeship,” said Dan Brookman, President of the American Apprenticeship Round Table.

“At Newport News Shipbuilding, we have found our Apprentice School to be the bedrock of our workforce development  program for more than 90 years. It’s an integral and highly effective mechanism for developing excellence in craft positions and other specialized skills, and is one of our primary tools for leadership development,” said Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin.

Kaine’s connection to the importance of career and technical education goes back to his experience working in his father’s ironworking shop. He later had the opportunity to work as a principal at a technical school in Honduras. As Governor, Kaine spearheaded the creation of Career and Technical Academies in Virginia – now called the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academies.

In the Senate, Kaine has also introduced the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015, which would encourage businesses to create apprenticeship programs, as well as led a bipartisan effort to push for the inclusion of career and technical education students in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. In response to his efforts, the Obama Administration recently announced the inaugural class of Presidential Scholars in CTE fields.

Kaine joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA). Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Al Franken (D-MN) in introducing this bill. A fact sheet on the EARNS Act is available here.

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