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Trump Apprenticeship Regulatory Update

60-day comment period on the newly proposed rule

On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) allowing for the creation of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). These IRAPs are third-party certified apprenticeship programs with little oversight and minimal regulatory framework.

The proposed rule includes an exemption from allowing the creation of IRAPs within the construction industry. This means that while other industries can use this new apprenticeship model, the tried and true construction industry apprenticeship model we have fostered for nearly 80 years will not be impacted at this time. Without the exemption to this rule registered apprenticeship programs would likely be undercut by potentially unregulated and competing parallel programs that would hinder our ability to operate as world class institutions.

Furthermore, the DOL will not accept applications from entities seeking to recognize apprenticeship programs in the construction industry. We note that while this exemption is not fully permanent, and we must be vigilant in our communications with the Administration to ensure it is made permanent, this is a major win for NECA and our industry.

June 27, 2019 marked the beginning of a 60-day comment period on the newly proposed rule and NECA will use this period to submit comments and work with other groups to amplify our position on this matter. Once finalized, NECA will circulate a “How To” document encouraging our Chapters, Members, their non-bargained employees, and all interested parties at all levels to provide comments to the DOL urging them to solidify the construction industry exemption from IRAPs.

Some key points to remember:

  • The construction sector was rightfully left alone and protected in this current proposed rule.
  • The Trump Administration recognizes the unique leadership role the construction sector has paved in the creation of apprenticeships.
  • The Administration will not accept applications from construction entities to serve as IRAPs.
  • The non-unionized sector had already expressed dismay about the construction industry exemption.
  • We anticipate the non-unionized sector will launch an all-out effort to remove the construction exemption.
  • All NECA-related entities are strongly encouraged to participate in the regulatory process by weighing in before the 60-day deadline.

NECA will continue to remain on top of this very important issue as we are working daily with Administration officials, lawmakers, labor partners, and other subcontracting groups in Washington, DC to ensure a positive outcome. This issue is of the utmost importance and one that we will remain constantly engaged in.

Thank you for your involvement and please do not hesitate to reach out to NECA's Government Affairs Executive Director, Marco Giamberardino at:  (301) 215-4522 with any questions.

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