DOL awards $81M to expand registered apprenticeships

U.S. Labor Department (Photo: Matthew Dembicki)

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) this week awarded $80.6 million in grants to help states improve and expand registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs).

Building State Capacity to Expand Apprenticeship through Innovation grants would strengthen the national apprenticeship system, promote system alignment and partnerships and improve data sharing and data integrity, according to DOL.

The program supports statewide RAP expansion through a two-tiered funding system. The grants give states maximum flexibility to address local apprenticeship needs while enhancing the focus on employer engagement, DOL said.

The department awarded Tier I grants, typically $450,000, to workforce development agencies in 42 states and U.S. territories.

The department also awarded Tier II grants, ranging from $3 million to $9 million, to 11 states: Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

Tier II grants are based on the number and quality of Tier II applications received, as well as strong evidence of past performance in expanding RAPs.

More opportunities for RAPs

State agencies can use the funds to:

  • Expand registered apprenticeships in healthcare, mental health care, addiction treatment or alternative pain management occupations that provide support to individuals in rural areas.
  • Incorporate strategies to support or expand registered apprenticeship opportunities among all workers, including women, minorities, veterans, individuals with disabilities and individuals with criminal records.
  • Support system alignment and partnership through the establishment or expansion of the role of business service representatives and apprenticeship navigators.
  • Develop innovative technical assistance strategies for registered apprenticeship sponsors.
  • Establish an employer incentive plan to expand registered apprenticeships.
  • Identify strategies to support engagement with small businesses in nontraditional industries.
  • Launch or expand sector strategies to extend RAPs to new industries or new or non-traditional occupations in existing sectors.

Closing the skills gap

RAPs “provide workers with the right skills needed in today’s labor market and can have a positive impact in fixing the skills gap that employers face,” John Pallasch, assistant secretary for employment and training, said in a press release.

“This will be a great opportunity for young people who want to combine on-the-job training with relevant classroom education, while getting paid at the same time,” he said.

An ETA guidance letter provides information on more opportunities for state funding.

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