Stefanik Speaks on House Floor, Offers Amendment to Improve National Apprenticeship Act
Washington, DC - Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik gave remarks on the House Floor on her amendment to improve H.R. 447 - National Apprenticeship Act. Congresswoman Stefanik offered an amendment to encourage the development of an apprenticeship program that is responsive to the demands of the 21st century workplace, accessible to job-creators in emerging industries, and encourages both employers and workers to participate by reducing red tape and burdensome regulations. Congresswoman Stefanik's full remarks are below:
"For more than a year, America’s workers have faced unprecedented challenges and unimaginable uncertainty. Today, nearly 9 million fewer Americans are working than before the COVID pandemic struck - robbing mothers, fathers, friends and neighbors – of the dignity, purpose, and security of work. As we help our nation recover from the economic toll of COVID-19 and strive to restore the livelihoods of millions of America’s workers, we have a responsibility to put forth solutions that strengthen the pathways to meaningful, family-sustaining careers. The apprenticeship model of providing paid work experience coupled with classroom instruction and on-the-job mentorship is a proven approach to equipping workers with the skills they need for lifelong success. Individuals who complete high-quality apprenticeship programs enter into well-paying jobs – and do so without the debt that so often saddles our younger generation of workers. Yet, less than 3% of the workforce participate in these registered apprenticeship system and the vast majority of programs are concentrated in only a handful of industries. This leaves our strongest workforce development strategies vastly underutilized – and emphasizes a blunt truth – doubling down on this decades old system won’t change the trajectory during this historic time of need. We must develop an apprenticeship system that is responsive to the demands of the 21st century workplace and accessible to job-creators in emerging industry sectors. Unfortunately, the Democrats' bill doubles-down on a one-size-fits-all approach, that closes pathways into the workforce, and stifles employer-led innovation. For all the rhetoric about expanding apprenticeships, the most immediate impact of the underlying bill would be just the opposite – pulling the rug out from under new programs that are equipping healthcare workers to combat the pandemic. My substitute amendment makes improvements to modernize and reinvigorate the national apprenticeship system – changes that will increase opportunities for workers and help bolster the nation’s economic recovery. First, expanding apprenticeships to small businesses and new industries will require flexibility for employers to design a program that fits their unique needs. Our amendment provides this flexibility by allowing small businesses to seek waivers to federal requirements that don’t match the nature of their business and would prevent them from ever developing an apprenticeship program. Second, engaging more Americans in apprenticeship opportunities will require a robust pipeline of workers with the base skills and workplace competencies to succeed. Our amendment will help grow youth and pre-apprenticeship programs by equipping them to prepare the next generation for a full range of workforce development opportunities and careers – not siloing them from the start. And third, in order to empower American innovation, we must allow new models of work-based learning to thrive and let workforce leaders across the country inject dynamism into the age-old system. Our amendment preserves the ability for innovation beyond the traditional registered system to ensure that apprenticeship offerings can develop and adapt as quickly as our job market demands. There is no clearer example of the promise of innovative models than the array of industry-recognized programs recently developed to educate nurses and healthcare professionals in the midst of the public-health crisis that we face. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment to modernize the apprenticeship system and generate opportunities for American workers without the red tape and the roadblocks that remain in the underlying bill."