WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) successfully included an amendment to the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020 that would allow pre-apprenticeship programs to use grant funds under the legislation to provide stipends for participants to cover certain out-of-pocket costs such as housing, transportation, and childcare.

“With persistent inequities in our society and a struggling economy further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must do more to help people obtain the education and skills they need to succeed,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “Rep. Langevin and I have heard from pre-apprenticeship programs in our districts that some of the biggest barriers people face entering and completing these programs are the costs to cover living expenses and fees associated with the programs themselves. This amendment would help pre-apprenticeship programs remove those barriers for students so they can obtain the initial credentials they need to enter an apprenticeship program and put them on a pathway to quality, high-paying jobs.”

“Pre-apprenticeship programs are valuable training opportunities that serve as the starting point of rewarding careers, and they are even more critical as we wrestle with the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Langevin, co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. “I’m joining Chairman Smith to advance legislation to provide financial support for out-of-pocket costs for hard-working Americans participating in these programs because it will help them advance and help the nation meet the growing demand for highly skilled workers. This legislation underpins the ‘earn and learn’ approach that will prepare workers in areas ranging from advanced manufacturing to healthcare for success in a 21st century economy.”

This amendment that passed today was based on legislation recently introduced by Smith and Langevin, The Pre-Apprenticeship Wrap-around Support Services Fund Act of 2020. This legislation would establish a new grant program at the Department of Labor which would provide funding for pre-apprenticeship programs to use for direct support to pre-apprentices. Unlike most apprenticeship programs, pre-apprenticeship programs are usually unable to provide income support during the program. By allowing pre-apprenticeship programs to put grant funds towards stipends, it will help ensure equitable access and increased retention and completion of these programs.

Further, pre-apprenticeships will help students who have missed school time, especially those who have not been able to engage in in-person Career Technical Education (CTE) lab time, due to the pandemic. In an effort to prevent further spread of the virus, many facilities have had to close and thus limited access to hands-on experiences and training. Pre-apprenticeships will help bridge the knowledge gap and provide extra support to make up for lost learning time.

Text of the Amendment to H.R. 8294, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, can be found here and text of the Pre-Apprenticeship Wrap-around Support Services Fund Act of 2020 can be found here.

Statements of Support:

Karen Dove, Executive Director of ANEW:

“On average, each client needs about $1,000 of support service funding to be able to complete our 11-week training program. In return, they receive four industry recognized certificates, and are ready to enter apprenticeship with their driver’s license and GED or diploma. This funding is critical to ensure those who are most in need are able to complete the program and transition to a family wage career.”

Shoshana Wineburg, MSW, Director of Public Policy & Communications, YouthCare:

“YouthCare is thrilled to support Congressman Smith's Amendment to H.R. 8294 to provide stipends for young people engaged in pre-apprenticeship programs. YouthCare is one of the largest organizations in Washington State serving youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. We know that safe housing is key to stability, but access to education and employment are key to maintaining that stability over time. Pre-apprenticeships play a significant role in helping young people build employment skills and create pathways to careers. Unfortunately, those pathways are often derailed because of cost barriers associated with housing, transportation, or childcare—which is exactly why this amendment is so important and why we’re so excited to support it.”