Assistant Speaker secures inclusion of early educators
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Last week, on Friday, February 5, 2021, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-5) voted to pass the bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act, a bill that will invest more than $3.5 billion over 5 years in expanding access and opportunities to Registered Apprenticeship (RAs), youth apprenticeship, and pre-apprenticeships programs. This bill will also create nearly one million new apprenticeship opportunities and, as a result of the Assistant Speaker’s advocacy, the bill also expands apprenticeship opportunities to early educators within the child care sector, an industry devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we work to reopen and rebuild our economy, it’s vital that we invest in and expand apprenticeship opportunities for Americans, and early educators are an essential piece of this network,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “With this bill, we will help people of every age access new job training opportunities and apprenticeship programs to ensure they are equipped to succeed at work and provide for their families at home. I’m proud to support this bill and I will continue to support policies and programs that will strengthen economic opportunity for all.”
The bill was applauded by the early education community.
"Apprenticeship programs have tremendous potential to equitably support and advance the early childhood educator workforce, and increase their compensation to reflect their essential and valuable work," said Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO at the National Association for the Education of Young Children. "NAEYC is grateful to Representative Clark and all leaders in Congress who continue to lift up the teachers of our nation's youngest children, and we look forward to continued work together to ensure opportunities such as apprenticeships are inclusive in addressing the specific strengths and needs of early childhood educators across all states and settings."
“Apprenticeships are an essential part of the early childhood education system in America, providing current and future educators with the opportunity to acquire the skills and training they need to improve care and education for our youngest learners, but are currently only reaching a fraction of communities facing a workforce shortage in this critical industry,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “We are grateful for champions like Congresswoman Clark who are working to prioritize programs that give early educators pathways for career development and professional advancement to meet growing demand and ensure more children and working families have access to high-quality learning and care.”
According to the Department of Labor, 94 percent of individuals who complete Registered Apprenticeships are employed upon completion – making the RA system America’s most successful federally authorized workforce development program. The average starting wage upon RA completion exceeds $70,000 annually.
The bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act will:
- Support the creation or expansion of registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs, including in non-traditional apprenticeship occupations and for nontraditional populations
- Codify and streamline standards for registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, including requirements for to ensure program quality and worker protections
- Codify existing regulations and practices to ensure that all individuals have an equal opportunity to participate in programs under the national apprenticeship system, and to increase diversity in high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand industry sectors
- Codify the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Apprenticeship
- Strengthen the connections between the Department of Education and Department of Labor through an interagency agreement to support the creation and expansion of youth apprenticeships, college consortiums, and data sharing agreements.