Registered Apprenticeship Programs

LIUNA urges Congress and the Administration to ensure that self-funded Labor-Management Registered Apprenticeship programs like LIUNA’s are not undermined as legislators seek to expand apprenticeship. Federal and state governments also should not subsidize experiments in industry-regulated approaches to training at the expense of proven labor-management

LIUNA and our partner employers have, for decades, met the workforce development needs of the construction industry by building a self-funded training infrastructure and Registered Apprenticeship programs. Employers remain fully involved by contributing monetarily, sitting as active trustees and JATC, and in program development as subject matter experts.

State-of-the-art training is free and accessible to participating contractors, members, apprentices and pre-apprentices across the U.S. and Canada through over 70 affiliated training centers. Continual, life-long career training opportunities allows workers to upgrade employability skills, move to leadership positions, update safety knowledge, and increase productivity all with the goal of expanding career paths, living wages, and contractor competitiveness.

LIUNA’s labor-management training programs invest millions of private-sector dollars annually into this proven workforce development system. Most recent bipartisan efforts to expand apprenticeship programs across new industries have instead followed a model based on federal and state investment and competitive grants.

Registered Apprenticeships are a benefit to employers, workers, and the public but without careful consideration, these efforts carry the risk of undercutting existing programs. Creating a system with little-to-no enforcement and is structured to reduce wages, standards, oversite, and worker protection will not produce more skill apprentices. Worse it puts high-quality, self-funded joint employer and labor programs like LIUNA’s at a disadvantage as they are forced to compete with subsidized programs that are not required to meet the same high standards.

Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs)

The integrity of the Registered Apprenticeship system, under the National Apprenticeship Act, is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Labor. For many years, DOL has successfully administered the law in the construction sector which accounts for 50% of all Federal Registered Apprenticeships. Recognizing the successful model of construction, the Department issued regulations in 2008 intended to encourage expansion of Registered Apprenticeship.

During the Trump Administration, DOL proposed a parallel apprenticeship system known as Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). LIUNA members and fellow building tradesmen and women pushed back against the proposal submitting hundreds of thousands of comments in opposition. 

President Biden and Vice President Harris recognized that IRAPs were a threat to union workers and they eliminated them by rescinding the previous Administration's order supporting IRAPs and ordered the Department of Labor to act on new rules to reverse these harmful, anti-worker, union-busting programs.

The Biden Administration affirmed their support of union registered apprenticeship programs, because they are the gold standard. With these new policies in place, LIUNA and the building trades first-class, cutting edge apprenticeship programs will continue to be the construction industry standard bearer.

The IRAP model, by its very definition, is subject to significantly less than rigorous standards. While Registered Apprenticeship program sponsors must meet high standards to receive recognition from the Department of Labor, IRAPs would be allowed to receive accreditation through private third-party organizations approved by the DOL. IRAPs would not be required to comply with Equal Employment Opportunity regulations and other standards for apprenticeships. With the approval process for accreditors is still vague, this is a cause for concern as these private entities’ capacity and expertise is unknown as well as their potential authority to shape apprenticeship standards.