- The U.S. Department of Labor made $87.5 million in grants available to expand registered apprenticeships — and $40 million of it is set aside for states that "implement required diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and demonstrate their commitment to adopt, expand and promote these efforts," according to a March 18 announcement.
- The goal, according to DOL, is to support states in building apprenticeship programs that are modern, diverse and aligned with current workforce needs. The announcement specifically noted increasing the number of "underrepresented populations" taking part in registered apprenticeship programs.
- The grants build on a Biden executive order that, in part, ended the Trump-era Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program, which had industry groups oversee registered apprenticeships.
DOL's announcement expands on the Biden administration's messaging in its executive order on apprenticeships — particularly regarding their diversity. President Joe Biden, in his original executive order, endorsed Congressman Bobby Scott’s, D-Va., bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which also focuses on bringing more diversity into apprenticeship enrollment.
The coronavirus pandemic has pressured in-person programs — including apprenticeships — to adapt to the loss of person-to-person engagement. While some aspects of the apprenticeship have been able to move online, not all of it can, experts previously told HR Dive.
"As far as sweeping generalizations that online learning is the new normal, I don't necessarily agree with that," Nick Wyman, president and CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills & Innovation America, said. "It is about learning by doing, and unless you have the doing part, it's just learning."
Prior to the pandemic, some employers were already adjusting apprenticeship programs to adapt to a new market. Iowa, for example, has apprenticeships with CVS Health and other "non-traditional" partners, such as employers in IT and financial services, thanks to the Iowa Apprenticeship Act. Private companies have gotten into apprenticeship programming, as well; Amazon announced at the end of January that it will run the Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship Program as a registered apprenticeship through DOL.