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National Apprenticeship Regulations Are Changing

A new U.S. Department of Labor rule is modernizing the National Apprenticeship System. Although the rule takes effect on Dec. 29, 2008, it gives State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) up to two additional years to make the necessary changes. For more than 70 years, the National Apprenticeship System has provided training in a variety of fields.

December 15, 2008

A new U.S. Department of Labor rule is modernizing the National Apprenticeship System. Although the rule takes effect on Dec. 29, 2008, it gives State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) up to two additional years to make the necessary changes.

For more than 70 years, the National Apprenticeship System has provided training in a variety of fields. The system is now being adapted to changes in the American workplace.

The revised regulations:

  • Incorporate technology-basedlearning – By including the use of electronic media in the definition of Related Technical Instruction (RTI), the final rule fully supports technology-based and distance learning.
  • Provide additional pathways to certification – Program sponsors may now offer three different ways for apprentices to complete a registered apprenticeship program:
  1. Time-based approach, which requires an apprentice to complete a specific number of on-the-job (OJT) and RTI hours.
  2. Competency-based approach, which requires an apprentice to demonstrate competency and requires OJT and RTI.
  3. Hybrid approach, which requires the apprentice to complete a minimum number of OJT and RTI hours and demonstrate competency in defined subjects.
  • Introduce interim credentials –Registration agencies have the option to issue certificates that show an apprentice is proficient in particular required skills as he or she progresses through the program.
  • Improve program registration and review – Changes to the regulations establish 90-day timeframes for registration agencies to process sponsor requests for registering and modifying program standards and 45-day timeframes for sponsors to notify registration agencies regarding other employment and apprenticeship agreement changes.
  • Update the reciprocal registration provision – The new rules allow apprentices in building and construction programs to work as registered apprentices in other states that have reciprocal approval. To be sure that out-of-state programs do not gain undue advantage over reciprocal state programs when bidding on contracts, the final rule requires apprenticeship program sponsors seeking reciprocal approval to meet the wage and hour provisions and apprentice ratio standards of the reciprocal state.
  • Introduce provisional registration – The regulations call for newly registered programs to receive provisional approval for one year. After a year, programs meeting the regulatory standards may either be permanently approved or have their provisional registration extended through the end of the first training cycle.

For State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs), the regulations:

  • Increase linkages with the workforce investment system – The revised regulations require SAAs requesting DOL recognition to demonstrate linkages and coordination with the state's economic development strategies and public workforce investment system.
  • Redefine the roles and responsibilities of SAAs and State Apprenticeship Councils (SACs) – In an effort to establish a clear path of accountability between DOL and the state agency that overseesapprenticeship, the regulations grant registration agency recognition solely to SAAs. SACs will continue to be required foradvisory or regulatory purposes.
  • Establish a process for continued recognition – The revised regulations require SAAs to reapply for DOL recognition within two years of the effective date and to reapply every five years thereafter for continued recognition. This change will improve state conformity with federal requirements and establish consistency across administration and management of the National Registered Apprenticeship system.
  • Increase flexibility for location of an SAA – The revised regulations give states the flexibility to determine the location of the apprenticeship agency within the state government organizational structure and no longer require that an SAA be in a state's department of labor.

For the U.S. Department of Labor, the regulations:

  • Enhance program accountability – The updated regulations include a new section on performance standards that support DOL's efforts to demonstrate results and increase program quality. Programs with completion rates below the national average will be provided with technical assistance targeted to improve their performance and improve overall program quality. In addition to completion rates, the revised regulations emphasize the existing practice of using quality assurance assessments and Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance Reviews to evaluate program performance for quality and compliance with program requirements.
  • Ensure national conformity with federal apprenticeship legislation and regulations – The updated regulations require that recognized states provide the Office of Apprenticeship (OA) with the opportunity to review all potential changes to the state's apprenticeship law so that OA can safeguard conformity with 29 C.F.R. part 29. Such a review process affords an opportunity for an SAA and OA to identify and resolve issues that could potentially affect a state's recognition status before proposals take effect and must be undone to preserve recognition.

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