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Wicker looks to strengthen apprenticeship programs

Senator Roger Wicker has introduced legislation aimed at bolstering apprenticeship programs, which would help American workers develop the skills required to succeed in today’s economy.

A study that was conducted by Department of Labor shows that over 90 percent of apprentices find employment after completing their program, and their average starting wage is $60,000 annually.

In addition, graduates of apprenticeship programs see a $300,000-lifetime increase in earnings, without the burden of student loan debt.

“Apprenticeships are an important workforce development tool,” said Wicker. “These programs provide a unique opportunity for people to receive on-the-job training with experts in their field while they ‘earn as they learn.’ The purpose of my legislation is to streamline government bureaucracy, making it easier for employers to create an apprenticeship program or update an existing one. This should lead to giving American workers more options and opportunities to get an affordable education and a well-paying job.”

Wicker said that the new legislation would specifically do two things.

  • Require the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) State Apprenticeship Agency to act on applications within 90 days after an application is submitted.
  • Forward the application to the DOL if the State Apprenticeship Agency does not make a decision in the allotted time.  DOL would then have 30 days to make a final determination or the application will be automatically approved.

Keith, Paton, who is a board member of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and is VP of service for Ivey Mechanical Company, said he stands behind the legislation.

“As a mechanical contractor in Mississippi, I am thrilled that my Senator is fighting for my industry,” said Paton.”Our industry is in desperate need of new talent. Increased opportunities for apprenticeship programs will be vital to fulfilling the need for construction field co-workers and the 115,000 HVAC technician jobs that our industry has to fill by 2022.”

Wicker added that streamlining government bureaucracy would make it easier to create apprenticeship programs.

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