WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on a proposal to eliminate the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program, allowing the department to direct its resources toward expanding access to good-paying jobs through Registered Apprenticeships and create reliable pathways to middle class.
The proposed rule is the latest of several actions taken by the department in response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14016, including the suspension of review of applications for Standard Recognition Entities in the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program. The proposal is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s larger apprenticeship effort, including expanding and strengthening the proven Registered Apprenticeship model, investing in pipelines to these programs, and improving the quality of apprenticeship programs.
The proposed rule would rescind the regulatory framework used to establish and govern IRAPs. If the proposal is finalized, the department will work with previously recognized SREs and IRAPs to explore options to become program sponsors or intermediaries under the Registered Apprenticeship system.
In the NPRM, the department explains that IRAPs created a duplicative system that could lead to lower quality standards for training and poorer safety and welfare protections for apprentices compared to Registered Apprenticeship Programs. Unlike IRAPs, Registered Apprenticeships are also required to provide apprentices with progressively increasing wages, which serve as an important incentive to attract and recruit apprentices while developing a pipeline of local, diverse, well-trained workers to meet talent needs across a diverse array of industries, and increase the competitiveness of the U.S. workforce.
Scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Nov. 15, 2021, the NPRM is available now for public inspection.