MADISON – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on Tuesday it published a final rule establishing a system for the development of Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). The final rule follows a multi-year process to expand apprenticeships around the country and complement the Registered Apprenticeship program already in existence.
“Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship program has been a successful way to provide individuals with necessary training in a variety of industries since it started in 1911,” said Chris Reader, Senior Director of Workforce & Employment Policy at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). “The final DOL rule establishing an industry-recognized program will offer employers yet another option to fill the significant number of job openings we have in the state.”
The final rule on IRAPs will allow certain organizations – including trade groups, companies, educational institutions, non-profits, unions and others – to become Standards Recognition Entities (SRE) that could operate apprenticeship programs without entering into the traditional Registered Apprenticeship framework.
According to DOL’s release, “IRAPs will serve as a complement to the successful Registered Apprenticeship program that has been in place for over 80 years. The industry-led, market-driven SRE approach outlined in the final rule will give employers and other stakeholders additional flexibility necessary to expand the apprenticeship model into new industries and to address the diverse workforce needs of different industries and occupations.”
U.S. DOL Secretary Eugene Scalia spoke at WMC’s Business Day in Madison event in February and outlined why this final rule would benefit Wisconsin employers and employees. He explained that individuals earn, on average, $70,000 a year once they complete their apprenticeship and that the IRAP plan “would allow organizations more flexibility to recognize apprenticeships in new fields with different criteria than the registered program.”
The final rule will be effective on May 11, 2020, and DOL will begin accepting applications that day. Prior to the effective date, interested entities can receive technical assistance from the Department to prepare their applications and submit as soon as the rule is effective.
“Wisconsin has a persistent workforce shortage, and apprenticeships – whether through Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship program or through this new pathway – are an effective way to get people ready for well-paying careers we have available right now,” added Reader. “We are excited to grow apprenticeships throughout the state, and look forward to working with DOL as this final rule is implemented.”
More details are available at www.apprenticeship.gov.