February 17, 2021
The White House is discontinuing a Trump administration workforce initiative that sought to deregulate government-funded apprenticeship programs by shifting oversight to industry groups.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday will reverse a 2017 executive order from former President Donald Trump that called for the Labor Department to launch so-called industry-recognized apprenticeship programs, or IRAPs, the White House announced.
The Biden administration will instead focus on the Labor Department’s traditional registered apprenticeships favored by organized labor—which require tougher standards for program operators—as the pathway to expand the nation’s earn-as-you-learn job-training system.
The IRAP model was supported by some companies and congressional Republicans for its emphasis on giving employers more flexibility in training workers without the red tape of the registered apprenticeship process—a model that dates back more than eight decades.
But the concept spurred significant criticism from building trades unions and Democratic lawmakers, who worried it would undermine organized labor’s talent pipeline by letting builders form their own apprenticeship programs without the wage and safety protections guaranteed when unions are involved.
“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,” the White House said in a statement.