WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Pre-Apprenticeship Wrap-around Support Services Fund Act of 2021 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.

“Societal inequities are being further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession – we must do more to help people obtain the education and skills they need to succeed and build a career to provide for themselves and their families,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “Some of the biggest barriers people face when entering and completing these programs are the costs of living expenses and fees associated with the programs themselves. Rep. Langevin and I developed this proposal after hearing these concerns from pre-apprenticeship programs in our respective districts. The bill would help pre-apprenticeship programs remove cost barriers for students to obtain initial credentials needed to enroll in a Registered Apprenticeship and put them on a pathway to quality, high-paying jobs.”

“One of the best ways we can ensure the success of participants in pre-apprenticeship programs is by providing financial support for out-of-pocket costs that too often pose as an obstacle to completion,” said Rep. Langevin, co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. “In the wake of the pandemic, it is even more important that we strengthen pipelines to rewarding careers for hard-working Americans and help students recover from lost work-based learning time. I am pleased to once again join Chairman Smith to underscore the importance of ‘earn to learn’ opportunities and bolster pre-apprenticeship programs that will help us meet the growing demand for skilled workers.”

The Pre-Apprenticeship Wrap-around Support Services Fund Act of 2021 would establish a new grant program at the Department of Labor which would provide specific funding for pre-apprenticeship programs to use for direct financial support to pre-apprentices. Unlike most apprenticeship programs, pre-apprenticeship programs are typically unable to provide wages or other 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.

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 students recover from lost learning, especially those who have not been able to engage in in-person Career Technical Education (CTE) lab time due to the pandemic. Pre-apprenticeships will help bridge the knowledge gap and provide extra support to make up for lost learning time.

Text of the Pre-Apprenticeship Wrap-around Support Services Fund Act of 2021 can be found here.

Statement of Support:

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

“YouthCare is thrilled to support Congressman Smith’s bill 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.”