- New Jersey's Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) announced Jan. 31 a new $2 million grant opportunity for organizations in the state that create "degree apprenticeship" programs.
- A degree apprenticeship program allows apprentices to earn credits toward an associate's, bachelor or graduate degree either while participating in a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Registered Apprenticeship Program or following the completion of such a program, according to NJDOL. The grant is designed to provide financial assistance to those who are participating in a registered apprenticeship and who are enrolled in a degree program simultaneously.
- The state is permitting a broad category of organizations to apply for funding, including employers, trade associations, institutions of higher learning and economic development organizations. The deadline for applications is April 3.
With the announcement, New Jersey follows many other stakeholders who are looking to the apprenticeship model to support workers' career goals. Apprenticeships have become a talking point not only among state and local governments in the U.S., but also among nonprofits, trade associations and a variety of other organizations.
Previously, states have encouraged employers that start apprenticeship programs to work with higher learning institutions. That includes Iowa, where employers can collaborate with local community colleges to do so. States like Georgia offer grant programs similar to New Jersey's, while others have opted to encourage growth of the model via tax credits for employers or tuition reimbursement for apprentices, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Aside from looking into state and local incentives, employers looking to start an apprenticeship can utilize the resources made available by the DOL, which has created a toolkit and which has personnel who can advise employers on the process, sources previously told HR Dive. Employers should also note proposed changes to the DOL's apprenticeship registration process, which the department detailed in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last summer. Notably, the rules would allow DOL to recognize certain groups that could set standards for training, curricula and structure of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs.
While apprenticeships have gained steam, some regulatory processes have reportedly made it difficult for employers to consider investing time into them. A report by the Center for an Urban Future, for example, found that some New York City tech companies dislike the city's two-year probation period for apprenticeship programs, as it prevents them from making adjustments to account for new technologies.