U.S. Department of Labor awards apprenticeship grants to Madison County and St. Louis region

Illinois Correspondent

Apprenticeship programs on both sides of the river will get a boost in funding from the federal government for the next few years.

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Madison County and the St. Louis region workforce innovation areas a four-year, $5.8 million grant to be part of the Apprenticeship Building America program.

The Gateway Hub includes six local workforce innovation areas: Madison County Employment and Training; St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department; city of St. Louis; St. Louis County; St. Charles County; and the Jefferson/Franklin Consortium in Missouri. It also includes BioSTL, which is a nonprofit innovation hub driving the bioscience sector across the St. Louis region. The BioSTL Coalition includes top business, science, academic, philanthropic and public sector leaders to advance registered bioscience apprenticeships.

The project received $5,819,104 to register at least 750 new apprentices across the region in the first joint initiative between Illinois and Missouri workforce areas.

Tony Fuhrmann, director of Madison County Employment and Training, said the project spans 13 counties and 2.4 million residents across the St. Louis metropolitan region.

“In addition to building capacity and awareness for apprenticeships as an ‘earn as you learn’ model for workforce development, the Gateway Hub will emphasize the inclusion of underserved populations in apprenticeship opportunities,” Fuhrmann said.

The target industries are education, health care, social assistance and bioscience manufacturing. Other partners connecting apprentices to the programs include Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Southwestern Illinois College, Lewis & Clark Community College, St. Louis Community College, Jefferson College and Kaskaskia Community College.

“Together, we are building partnerships that provide transformative experiences for individuals who seek something greater through high-quality academic development and hands-on skill training,” said SIUE Chancellor James T. Minor.

Other partners include BJC Healthcare, Cortex Innovation Community, Gateway Regional Medical Center, Hospital Sisters Health System, Jersey County Hospital, Millipore Sigma, OSF Healthcare, school districts in Alton, Belleville, Collinsville and Madison, and the community organizations Rung for Women, Urban League of Metro St. Louis and YWCA of Metro St. Louis. It is supported by regional organizations such as the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois and multiple regional chambers of commerce and municipalities.

Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor is awarding $113 million to apprenticeship programs.

“This earn-as-you-learn model is helping to grow our economy and supports the Biden-Harris administration’s strategy to ensure marginalized populations access to good jobs, a key to a successful and equitable recovery,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The Apprenticeship Building America grant program will support the Department of Labor’s efforts to empower workers – morning, noon and night – advance racial equity, give workers at risk of exploitation a path to a good job and provide workers with access to health care and secure retirements throughout their careers.”

U.S. Department of Labor refocuses on Registered Apprenticeships

Washington – The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to rescind the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP), and will direct the department’s resources toward Registered Apprenticeships (RA) to expand access to good-paying jobs and create reliable pathways to the middle class.

The department issued this final rule after reviewing the IRAP as required by Executive Order 14016 in which President Biden directed federal agencies to “promptly consider taking steps to rescind any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies” implemented by Executive Order 13801.

After reviewing the previous rule, the department said it determined EO 13801 had created a duplicative, lower-quality system that was not in the best interest of workers and industries. By contrast, the Registered Apprenticeship system has an established 85-year record of promoting apprentices’ welfare and ensuring program quality in an expanding number of diverse occupations and industries. The RA system offers higher quality training and worker protection standards, including progressively increasing wages and equal employment opportunity requirements.

By taking this regulatory action, the department has reaffirmed its commitment to the Registered Apprenticeship system and its value in helping U.S. workers, particularly those from underserved communities, to access good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.

As part of its final rule, the department will work with previously recognized SREs and IRAPs to explore opportunities to become program sponsors or intermediaries in the RA system and will provide IRAP apprentices with resources to connect them with Registered Apprenticeship training opportunities.


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