Due in large part to the hard work of North America’s Building Trades Unions and other unions, registered apprenticeships have been a reliable pathway to the middle class for decades – including for workers who don’t go to college – by training workers for good jobs and allowing them to earn while they learn. A Mathematica study shows workers can earn $240,000 more over the course of their lifetime – $300,000 when including benefits – by participating in these programs. Registered apprenticeships are especially important as we recover from the pandemic, allowing workers who have lost their jobs or young people who are entering a weak job market to train for the jobs of the future while earning a decent income.

To this end, President Biden took the bold step to end the Trump-era program by reversing industry recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs), which threaten to undermine registered apprenticeship programs. Industry-recognized apprenticeship programs have fewer quality standards than registered apprenticeship programs – for example, they fail to require the wage progression that reflects increasing apprentice skills and they lack the standardized training rigor that ensures employers know they are hiring a worker with high-quality training.

In an Executive Order, President Biden rescinded Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13801, which spurred the creation of these programs. He is also asking DOL to consider new rulemaking to reverse these programs and to immediately slow support for industry recognized apprenticeship programs by pausing approval of new Standards Recognition Entities and ending new funding for existing Standards Recognition Entities.