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Working Hard or Hardly Working? Democrats Sidestep Bipartisan Solutions.

Modernizing the apprenticeship system in this country is more important than ever as our nation recovers from COVID-19 and millions are seeking to reenter the workforce.
 
This is why we should be doing all we can to expand employers’ opportunities to address the needs of their current and prospective workers.
 
Unfortunately, Democrats chose a partisan approach and marked up a bill, H.R. 8924, that closes pathways to work for students and job seekers.
 
Republicans’ Pro-Innovation Solution
 
The Republican-led, pro-growth amendment offered by Representative Smucker (R-PA) during today’s markup modernizes the registered apprenticeship program while continuing to give the Department of Labor important flexibility to pursue other models of work-based learning.
 
Specifically, the amendment would:
  • Reduce the paperwork burden on states instead of forcing them to establish a duplicative application process;
  • Remove additional layers of bureaucracy being pushed by Democrats in the form of advisory committees and interagency agreements;
  • Provide states with more discretion over how they spend their money instead of letting the federal government dictate where their dollars must go;
  • Make it easier for more programs and apprentices to access the registered apprenticeship system by leveling the playing field between union and non-union program sponsors; and
  • Maintain flexibility in current law for innovation in apprenticeships that empowers workers and employers rather than bureaucrats.
Democrats’ One-Size-Fits-All Mandate
 
The Committee Democrats’ bill reinforces barriers that make the apprenticeship system difficult to navigate.
 
John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the Department of Labor, sent a letter to Committee Republicans to caution that “if enacted, this bill would inhibit the ability of the Department to fulfill its mission in providing more Americans access to apprenticeships.” Mr. Pallasch went on to warn that H.R. 8294 puts job-filling programs in jeopardy due to an “excessive number of requirements that are overly prescriptive.”
 
Committee Democrats are clinging to an 80-year-old system instead of giving workers and employers more autonomy to create programs that are responsive to workforce needs.
 
Bottom Line
 
Republicans are working hard to inject innovation into the apprenticeship model so that more Americans can get back to work, while the Democrats’ approach is hardly working and doubles down on burdens that prevent more workers from accessing apprenticeship opportunities.
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