By Mary Wurtz

CSG provided an initial summary of this event earlier this week. This article looks further into how states can take advantage of apprenticeships as a way to develop the workforce.

The White House hosted the American Rescue Plan Act Workforce Development Summit on July 13 to announce more than $40 billion in funding. In her opening remarks, Vice President Kamala Harris called the funding “a direct investment in working people in America.”

Local leaders from across the country shared examples of how their cities, counties and states are utilizing funding from the act to build a skilled workforce that strengthens capital infrastructure and public health and expands participation among underserved populations. One focus of the event was the historic levels of federal investment in the promotion of Registered Apprenticeship Programs and pre-apprenticeship programs, especially for infrastructure-related occupations.

Apprenticeship is a work-based learning model that enables individuals to receive supervised on-the-job training and job-related education while earning a competitive, full-time wage. The U.S. Department of Labor has validated and catalogued apprenticeships for more than 80 years as part of the Registered Apprenticeship Program. Pre-apprenticeship programs provide resources to prepare individuals to enter and complete Registered Apprenticeships.

Leaders shared their communities’ plans to utilize federal funding to promote apprenticeships during a panel focused on encouraging public-private sector partnerships to develop a diverse workforce.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell presented on the county’s efforts to promote infrastructure apprenticeships, with a special focus on the need for equity through investment in historically underserved communities. The county is utilizing $40 million to launch a High Road Apprenticeship Readiness Program, which will double the number of trainees participating in and placed through construction and infrastructure programs by the end of 2024. The funding will allow Los Angeles County to build on the strong outcomes already achieved, including $20/hour median starting wages, according to Mitchell.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser presented on the DC Infrastructure Academy , an innovative job-training program that recruits, screens and trains residents to pursue infrastructure careers in construction, energy, telecommunications, roads and water. Through employer-led training partnerships, paid job readiness training programs and apprenticeships, the academy has helped connect more than 2,300 residents to careers in infrastructure. Federal funding will enable the academy to train an additional 400 residents over the next two years.

Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, shared his administration’s proposal to use Rescue Plan funding to expand pre-apprenticeships through the Kentuckiana Builds program. This six-week pre-apprenticeship training program teaches specialized construction skills in partnership with the Louisville Urban League and the Carpenters Union. The program has provided over 350 individuals with access to union apprenticeships and construction jobs. Federal investments will enable Louisville to expand this program, with a focus on formerly incarcerated individuals. John O’Grady, commissioner of Franklin County, Ohio, also shared how funding will be used to fund job training programs like the Building Futures Pre-Apprenticeship Program to support low-income residents pursuing skilled construction trades.

These investments are just a few of the ways federal funding will be used to promote Registered Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs over the next several years. For example, the Department of Labor and Department of Transportation recently partnered to encourage state transportation agencies to use a portion of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in Registered Apprenticeships in infrastructure jobs. States are encouraged to develop Registered Apprenticeships to fill jobs created by the law, especially in the fields of transportation, renewable energy, public utilities and information technology.

The July 13 summit highlighted one of many opportunities for states and cities to take advantage of federal funding to promote Registered Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs. Through these initiatives, states can utilize apprenticeships to meet critical workforce needs and develop quality, high-paying jobs for residents.

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