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Foxx, Committee Members Object to Biden’s Federal Apprenticeship Power Grab

WASHINGTON – Today, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) led a comment letter to Department of Labor (DOL) Acting Secretary Julie Su requesting DOL withdraw the proposed apprenticeship rule. The over 600-page rule expands federal power over apprenticeships, injects political ideology into the apprenticeship system, and imposes significant new burdens on apprenticeship sponsors and employers. The following members joined Foxx on the letter: Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Chairman Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rick Allen (R-GA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Michelle Steel (R-CA), Julia Letlow (R-LA), Aaron Bean (R-FL), Nathaniel Moran (R-TX), Brandon Williams (R-NY), and Erin Houchin (R-IN).

In the letter, the lawmakers write: "Competencies are increasingly becoming the currency of the labor market… Amidst this transition into a skills-based economy, the Department is proposing to move apprenticeships in the opposite direction by eliminating the competency-based approach...And seemingly in error, the NPRM’s regulatory analysis includes projections for the numbers of registered apprenticeship programs through 2034 and continues to include competency-based programs in these projections….None of those new programs would be allowed to come to fruition under the proposed rule."

he lawmakers continue: "The Department’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA)…assert that registered apprenticeships have often been ‘the domain of white, able-bodied men’ [and the] ACA’s 2023 Biennial Report includes numerous recommendations on how 'diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility' (DEIA) can be embedded into the registered apprenticeship system. … The line between promoting voluntary practices and compelling employers and apprenticeship sponsors to adhere to DEI policies is blurred when it is the Department that has the final word on program registration… Even if the Department stays out of setting and judging attainment of state diversity quotas, their very existence as a requirement will fuel a race-conscious approach to apprenticeship expansion that is antithetical to the equal opportunity the proposed rule purports to promote."

The lawmakers conclude: "If the proposed rule is finalized, states, local workforce leaders, and employers will simply disengage and forgo the federal government’s tarnished stamp of approval as they set out to build their own apprenticeship systems that are responsive to the ever-changing demands of the economy. The current administration appears to be acutely aware of this dynamic, and on March 6, President Biden issued an executive order that directs federal agencies to use their contracts and grant programs to coerce job creators into subjecting their apprenticeship programs to federal control at risk of being pushed out of federal funding opportunities."

To read the full letter, click here.

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