- Reps. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, and Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., introduced the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) Amendment Act "to support more women in apprenticeship programs" Oct. 30, according to a news release from Boyle's office.
- The legislation would expand an existing program to issue at least one grant in each state and territory, adding to the six grants it already issues each year. Through the grants, recipients will be able to pay for transportation and childcare costs — two issues the congressmen "identified as barriers women face in participating in apprenticeships," a news release from Veasey's office said.
- "Women comprise nearly half of the United States workforce but only account for 7% of all apprenticeship participation," Veasey said. "This legislation will increase diversity in our American workforce by addressing barriers that keep women from participating in apprenticeship programs and modernize the WANTO program to reflect our economy's need for skilled employees."
Apprenticeships and other upskilling opportunities may be of extreme importance for women as automation and artificial intelligence replace and create jobs. The growing tech may cause between 40 million and 160 million women to need to transition from their positions to ones needing higher-level skills, according to estimates from the McKinsey Global Institute.
This proposed expansion comes after the U.S. Department of Labor awarded nearly $1.5 million in federal grants to four grantees through the WANTO program in October 2018, a continuation of the Trump administration's commitment to federally-funded apprenticeship programs.
Others are placing their faith in apprenticeship programs, as well, especially as employers face a talent market that largely lacks the skills they need to fill roles. The trend has extended to industries and jobs that weren't previously considered candidates for apprenticeships. Mailchimp, Adobe and CVS Health have created apprenticeships in healthcare, cybersecurity, engineering and other fields, for example. Still, apprenticeships are enjoying a renaissance in more traditional areas, too; industrial oven manufacturer Wisconsin Oven, for example, has collaborated with a local college to provide an earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship.