Fitzpatrick proposes bill to spur growth of nation’s apprenticeship programs

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on Feb. 25 introduced bipartisan legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to support apprenticeship programs across the nation.

“By promoting the collaboration between higher education and apprentice programs,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said, “this bill will help to prepare the next generation for good-paying jobs, while addressing our nation’s current shortage of trained workers.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick cosponsored the Student Apprenticeship Act of 2020, H.R. 5961, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) to modernize workforce training and spur the growth of registered apprenticeships nationwide.

H.R. 5961 is a companion bill to S. 2899, introduced in November 2019 by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).

Specifically, the measure would create a grant program that aligns institutions of higher education, employers and workforce intermediaries to create apprenticeship opportunities for students.

For example, as a student and an apprentice, participants would work to earn college credit and an industry credential while their employers pay them, according to a summary provided by Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office.

At the same time, employers would pay at least 25 percent of the student’s college tuition and fees, and student-apprentices would earn credits for their work that counts towards their degree and their industry credential, the summary says.

The bill also would create competitive grants to institutions of higher education, employers and workforce intermediaries to offset the costs associated with developing and implementing student-apprenticeships, among other provisions, according to the bill summary.

“Apprenticeship programs grow our economy by fostering training programs that will prepare workers for in-demand careers,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “There has been a consistent increase in the number of jobs, but employers are struggling to find skilled workers.”

The bill has garnered support from Advance CTE, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association for Career and Technical Education, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the National Association of Workforce Boards, among many others.