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President Announces New Initiatives and Grant Programs to Boost Apprenticeships

On April 16, President Obama and Vice President Biden visited Pennsylvania to announce the availability of the final $450 million in grants under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative to enhance job-driven training across America.

A key focus of the president’s remarks was apprenticeships and the path to good, high-paying jobs. IEC chapters and members have long known that apprenticeships have been instrumental to the nation’s economic success. As he mentioned, nine out of 10 apprentices get hired for full-time jobs after completing their program, and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is more than $50,000.

“Now we want to work with national industry associations to help partnerships like these take root all across the country so that anybody, in any city, any state, can earn the training they need to get the good jobs of tomorrow,” said President Obama. “So the bottom line is if you’re willing to put in the work to get a job or earn a promotion in today’s economy, America’s job-training system should give you every possible chance.”

A number of other new efforts will also help double the number of apprenticeships over the next five years, a goal the president laid out in his State of the Union address. For example the Department of Labor (DOL) is making $100 million available to help more workers participate in apprenticeships through the new American Apprenticeship Grants competition, which will focus on partnerships between employers, labor organizations, training providers, community colleges, local and state governments, the workforce system, nonprofits such as IEC, and faith-based organizations.

DOL and the Department of Veterans Affairs are teaming up to increase veterans’ access to apprenticeships by making it easier for employers to provide a fast track for their veteran employees to access GI Bill benefits for registered apprenticeship programs. While most IEC chapters have been approved as educational providers under the GI bill for many years, IEC recently initiated an outreach effort to Military Transition Offices. As a result, fliers promoting IEC apprenticeship currently appear on the Army, Marine, and Air Force websites, and IEC National has assisted more than a dozen chapters in establishing direct contact with transition offices at military bases in their areas.

DOL has partnered with the Department of Education to establish a new Registered Apprenticeship College Coalition, which will help bridge the gap between apprenticeship programs and colleges so that individuals completing registered apprenticeship programs can apply credits gained during their apprenticeship directly to college degree programs.

IEC is analyzing the impact of the new grant programs and the opportunities they might present to our chapters to qualify for funding. IEC will provide chapters with detailed information regarding veteran outreach and the Registered Apprenticeship College Coalition.