Rep. Pocan Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Apprenticeship Programs and Increase the Number of Highly Skilled Workers in U.S.

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), a member of the Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee, and a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, introduced the Leveraging Effective Apprenticeships to Rebuild National Skills (LEARNS) Act. The LEARNS Act would increase the number of highly skilled workers in the United States and strengthens apprenticeship programs as an effective earn-and-learn model for students, workers, and employers.

Representative Mark Pocan.

“Wisconsin, home to the first state law establishing an apprenticeship program, has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the registered apprenticeship model over the last 100 years,” said Representative Mark Pocan. “The LEARNS Act seeks to build on the success of such programs by strengthening apprenticeship programs and helping prepare workers for careers in highly skilled professions. These apprenticeship programs are particularly effective when labor and management both have a seat at the table in developing the standards and curriculum, which is why I am proud to introduce this legislation with so many labor partners. The LEARNS Act is another commonsense step Congress can take to ensure workers are able to secure good-paying, family-supporting jobs.”

“I thank Rep. Pocan for introducing the LEARNS Act to help close the skills gap and ensure American workers can compete for good jobs,” said Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD). “Rep. Pocan has been a strong advocate for working families, and I hope we can advance this legislation so that more of our people have the skills to find well-paying jobs and make it in America.”

“Registered apprenticeship programs offer on-the-job training and skills development that result in a nationally-recognized credential,” said Education and the Workforce Ranking Member, Bobby Scott (VA-03). “They not only empower workers to earn while they learn, but also provide them with knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in our nation’s high growth industries. The Leveraging Effective Apprenticeships to Rebuild National Skills (LEARNS) Act will provide the resources needed to ensure that these proven job training programs are accessible to employers and workers alike.  Registered apprenticeships are one of the most direct pathways to good jobs and the LEARNS Act will extend the benefits of these programs to more Americans.”

“Apprenticeships are an essential tool in expanding economic opportunity to millions of American workers, as well as growing and strengthening the middle class,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Ranking Member on the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Labor. “While President Trump’s budget makes disastrous cuts to our nation’s apprenticeship programs, the LEARNS Act would invest in these programs and ensure that apprenticeships are giving more workers the skills and tools they need to succeed. I am proud to join Rep. Pocan in cosponsoring this legislation and I strongly encourage my colleagues to Congress to support it.”

“The men and women of the IUPAT thank Rep. Pocan for his ongoing fight for working families, and for his leadership in introducing the LEARNS Act,” Kenneth Rigmaiden, General President – IUPAT. “With well over 100 years of experience in building our great nation, the skilled crafts men and women of the Building Trades know that an apprenticeship is the gateway to a safe and successful career, with a solid foothold in the middle class. The passage of the LEARNS Act will ensure that the American workforce will learn the necessary and portable skills to meet the specific demands of employers and entire industries through qualified apprenticeship programs.”

The LEARNS Act will:

  • Support closer alignment between registered apprenticeship programs, employers and other program sponsors offering good jobs,
  • Increase the attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials by program participants,
  • Create national standards for registered apprenticeship programs, and
  • Establish a permanent advisory council at the Department of Labor to oversee the actions and implementation of registered apprenticeship programs.

The legislation is currently cosponsored by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), John Conyers (D-MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Ron Kind (D-WI), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Kildee (D-MI), Mark Takano (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Pete Visclosky (D-IN).

The legislation is also supported by a variety of business, labor, education, and advocacy groups, including: North America’s Building Trades (NABTU), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), AFL-CIO, the National Skills Coalition and Young Invincibles.