Bill would establish competitive grant program to jumpstart 21st century workforce
WASHINGTON – Last week, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Mike Braun introduced a bipartisan bill to expand and advance youth apprenticeships. The Youth Apprenticeship Advancement Act would establish a competitive federal grant to boost workforce training programs that provide a direct pipeline to competitive careers.
This legislation will be the first program in statute specifically designed to support youth apprenticeships for students between the ages of 16-22. Only 2.7% of apprentices registered in 2021 were 16-18 years old. Critically, the legislation awards grants to eligible partnerships which ensures employers, educators, and other workforce partners all have a seat at the table.
“Prioritizing youth apprenticeship is a critical component to solving our greatest workforce challenges,” said Hickenlooper. “Our bill helps build a globally competitive workforce by giving students more pathways to a good-paying job beyond the traditional 4 year degree.”
“As a Main Street entrepreneur, I have seen firsthand just how impactful and important youth apprenticeships are. Teaching young Hoosiers about the value of a skills based education is vital in a rapidly changing workforce.” said Braun.
Hickenlooper and Braun’s bill would establish a national youth apprenticeship competitive grant program administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). DOL grants to youth apprenticeship programs would last five years. The bill specifies that eligible youth apprentices will be 16-22 and enrolled in or returning to high school at the beginning of the program.
Hickenlooper and Braun’s bill has widespread support from a number of national and Colorado stakeholders including CareerWise, Colorado Workforce Development Council, Jobs for the Future, and Progressive Policy Institute.
Hickenlooper has been a longtime advocate for youth apprenticeship programs. As governor, he jump-started CareerWise Colorado, a nonprofit designed to create statewide apprenticeship opportunities to prepare students for high-paying, competitive jobs at Colorado companies.
Senator Hickenlooper chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment & Workplace Safety. Senator Braun is the Subcommittee’s ranking member.
“The Youth Apprenticeship Advancement Act is foundational to creating more paths to careers for our nation’s young people. Youth apprenticeship holds the transformational power of social mobility while simultaneously invigorating our talent pipelines to ensure American industries remain competitive,” said CareerWise founder and CEO Noel Ginsburg. “We’re grateful to the bill sponsors; Sen. Hickenlooper has been leading these efforts since he was the Governor of Colorado where he supported the launch of CareerWise, and Sen. Braun’s bipartisan support helps youth apprenticeship flourish in Indiana where Horizon Education Alliance‘s CareerWise Elkhart County and Modern Apprenticeship Program for High Schoolers led by Ascend Indiana and EmployIndy are already under way.”
A one-page explainer is available HERE.
Full bill text is available HERE.