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Ferguson, Bonamici, Baldwin Applaud New Grant Program to Increase Apprenticeships

Today Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) commended the Department of Labor for announcing $150 million in grants to expand apprenticeships and work-based learning programs. The two Members of Congress and the Senator introduced the Promoting Apprenticeships through Regional Training Networks for Employers’ Required Skills (PARTNERS) Act.

The new Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant program will use funds from the H-1B Nonimmigrant Petitioner Fee Account to support industry partnerships between institutions of higher education and employers to expand apprenticeships and work-based learning programs. Industry partnerships help address the skills gap by bringing together employers, education organizations, training, labor, and community-based organizations to develop work-based learning programs.

“The White House and Department of Labor have been true leaders in the effort to expand apprenticeship opportunities. Our legislation, The PARTNERS Act, also uses H-1B fees to fund a grant program assisting local partnerships to develop work-based learning programs at no cost to taxpayers,” said Congressman Drew Ferguson.  “If we want to ensure that America’s workforce pipeline remains strong, we need long-term solutions, and it is smart to utilize H-1B fees to invest in our unique communities. I urge the Administration to support the PARTNERS Act so we can keep our Pledge to the American Worker.” 

“This announcement is an important first step to help workers gain the skills they need to support themselves and their families. Paid on-the-job training and apprenticeships help workers succeed and make sure employers have access to the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Now Congress must pass the PARTNERS Act to make sure that states and localities have the flexibility they need in establishing or expanding industry partnerships to be responsive to local employer needs.”

“I welcome the Trump Administration’s support for our legislative effort to scale up our apprenticeship programs and provide more people with the skills they need to succeed. It’s now important for the White House to take the next step and work with us to pass the PARTNERS Act in Congress,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin. “When we invest in public-private partnerships, we can boost workforce readiness and provide our businesses the skilled workers they need to grow our economy.”

“Local, robust, industry-driven partnerships between businesses, community colleges, the workforce system and community groups, like those supported by the PARTNERS Act and possible with funding from the Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grants are a crucial foundation for expanding work-based learning and apprenticeship,” said Katie Spiker, Senior Federal Policy Analyst at the National Skills Coalition

Expanding apprenticeships to new sectors of the economy will require coordinated multi-employer apprenticeship programs and strong local partnerships that respond to local workforce needs. The new grant program will help engage small and medium-sized businesses in the establishment of apprenticeship programs. The grant program will help people across the country find good jobs and provide workers with access to pre-apprenticeship programs and support services like childcare, transportation, equipment, and career counseling services.

Last year, Bonamici and Ferguson introduced bipartisan legislation to boost apprenticeships and work-based learning programs. Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced the Senate companion. The PARTNERS Act would also use funds from the H-1B Nonimmigrant Petitioner Fee Account to establish a grant program to support the creation and expansion of industry partnerships to help small and medium sized businesses develop work-based learning programs and provide support services for workers.

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