UPDATE: Sept. 23, 2022: The U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule that would rescind the Trump-era apprenticeship rule on IRAPs. The rule goes into effect 60 days after Sept. 26, when it is to be published in the Federal Register.
- The U.S. Department of Labor Nov. 15 proposed to rescind the Trump-era regulation that allowed employers to create their own versions of registered apprenticeship programs, called Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, through Standards Recognition Entities.
- In the proposed rule, DOL said it no longer "considers it appropriate or necessary to create an additional apprenticeship model, particularly one that does not guarantee the same protections for apprentices," calling the Registered Apprenticeship Program "a far more effective system than IRAPs."
- DOL will accept comments for 60 days after publication, until Jan. 13.
The original IRAP executive order and rule allowed for the creation of apprenticeship programs by third parties, including trade groups, corporations, nonprofits, educational institutions and unions, among others. President Joe Biden rescinded the order that called for the creation of the IRAP program in February, though that order left in place SREs that were already approved. Supporters of the program said IRAPs could open up affordable education opportunities to more workers, while critics worried the programs wouldn’t meet the standard training rigor of RAPs — something mentioned in the DOL’s proposed rule.
Biden’s executive order additionally reinstated the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships to bridge any communication gaps between industry, labor, education, workforce and community organizations as well as modernize the current RAP model.
Apprenticeships have faced particular challenges during the pandemic, since many programs require in-person engagement. Online formats struggle to make up the difference for apprenticeships, especially, experts previously told HR Dive — a problem in part compounded by the strong growth and demand for such programs in recent years.
While apprenticeships are typically seen as programs only for "hands-on" industries, like construction, the format has been expanding into nontraditional sectors, too, including healthcare, insurance and others. The programs may be one way to challenge the talent shortage, enticing employees to stay and building a strong talent pipeline.