DOL Proposes Rules to Update Apprenticeship System

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced proposed rules to align the national apprenticeship system with a more flexible and user-friendly approach for apprentices and employers, necessary in the 21st century global economy..

"Apprenticeship is a proven model of training that has been expanded beyond its traditional origins in industries such as construction to high growth industries and sectors," said Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of labor for Employment and Training. "We have proposed new regulations to reflect the 21st century global economy and the changes that have occurred in apprenticeship programs over the past 30 years."

The proposed rules make updates and changes affecting state apprenticeship agencies and the U.S. Department of Labor, and would expand the ways that individuals can advance through apprenticeships.

The types of training would expand from one to the following three approaches:

  • Competency-based approach, which requires the apprentice to demonstrate competency in the defined subject areas and does not require any specific hours of On-the-Job Training (OJT) or Related Technical Instruction (RTI).
  • Traditional, time-based approach, which requires the apprentice to complete a specific number of OJT and RTI hours.
  • Hybrid approach, which requires the apprentice to complete a minimum number of OJT and RTI hours and demonstrate competency in the defined subject areas.

Electronic media would be added to the definition of Related Technical Instruction and, as a result, establish technology-based and distance learning as part of an apprentice's instruction.

The proposed changes provide for interim credential certificates, so that active apprentices can demonstrate their proficiency in particular required skills and competencies to employers. Provisions also feature reciprocity, which would allow programs to cross state lines, so long as the host state's applicable laws are followed. Program performance and accountability standards would be enhanced, while guidance and technical assistance would continue to give apprenticeship programs the best prospects for success.

The proposed rules appear in the Dec. 13th Federal Register and can be accessed online at www.dol.gov/eta/regs/fedreg/proposed/2007024178.pdf. The 60-day public comment period will end on Feb. 11, 2008.

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