Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet welcomed the introduction of the House companion bill to his Student Apprenticeship Act. Introduced by U.S. Representatives Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), the bill would close the gap between higher education and labor by modernizing workforce training and accelerating the growth of registered apprenticeship programs nationwide. Bennet first introduced the bill in November 2019.
“Apprenticeships can bolster a student’s academic studies with training and skills development that better prepare them for their future career. We have an opportunity through the Student Apprenticeship Act to better connect education and workforce development, helping employers secure the skilled workforce they need, while giving workers an affordable pathway to the middle class and beyond,” said Bennet. “I’m glad to have Congressmen Khanna and Fitzpatrick leading the charge on this bill in the House and look forward to continuing to work together to see the Student Apprenticeship Act over the finish line.”
“To prepare our workers for the 21st century economy, we must acknowledge that on-the-job training and higher education go hand in hand,” said Khanna. “Student apprenticeship programs are key to ensuring workers are trained for the high-paying, high-demand jobs that employers are having so much trouble filling. We must invest in our workforce if we want to maintain America’s global economic leadership.”
“Apprenticeship programs grow our economy by fostering training programs that will prepare workers for in-demand careers. There has been a consistent increase in the number of jobs, but employers are struggling to find skilled workers,” said Fitzpatrick. “By promoting the collaboration between higher education and apprentice programs, this bill will help to prepare the next generation for good-paying jobs, while addressing our nation’s current shortage of trained workers.”
Despite low national unemployment, seven million jobs remain vacant due to a lack of domestic talent with the skills companies need and desire. Studies show that student apprenticeships, which allow students to learn job-related skills while earning college credit, lead to quality employment, equip workers with valuable skills, and help employers meet their current and future workforce needs.
The Student Apprenticeship Act would:
- Create a new grant program to encourage the establishment of apprenticeships between institutions of higher education, employers, and workforce intermediaries. Student participants would earn college credit, industry credentials, and compensation for their work. Employers would pay at least 25 percent of the student’s college tuition and fees.
- Expand registered apprenticeship programs by creating competitive grants to fund costs associated with developing, implementing, and strengthening student-apprenticeship programs, including: developing curricula and standards, increasing access to updated equipment and learning tools, and providing support services such as transportation, child care, and housing subsidies.
- Revise the federal work-study program to include apprenticeship programs, allowing eligible students to earn additional funds to pay tuition costs through work that aligns with their studies and intended career path.
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