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New bill tells Department of Labor to back off apprenticeship programs

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A new bill would push back on the U.S. Department of Labor’s ability to regulate apprenticeships.

The “Apprenticeship Freedom Act” from House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., was obtained exclusively by The Center Square.

The legislation in question would “amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to remove the requirements relating to registered apprenticeships.”

Currently, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act mandates that in order to receive federal funding made available to apprenticeships, employers must register with the Department of Labor and submit themselves to a host of regulations.

Many small businesses have chafed at the federal requirements.

“Apprenticeships are crucial for shaping the American workforce, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Good told The Center Square. “Unfortunately, President Biden’s Department of Labor currently dictates how these valuable programs are run. My bill restores power to small business owners and curbs the power of Washington bureaucrats.”

There are currently about 27,000 registered apprenticeships programs, the vast majority of which are not affiliated with a union. The number of apprenticeships has risen significantly in recent years. In 2012, there were just under 150,000 apprenticeships.

Good’s bill would give more flexibility to how apprenticeships are organized. Increasingly, the Biden administration is putting more Diversity, Equity and Inclusion requirements across broad swaths of the federal government.

The growth of those controversial rules is a problem for many business owners.

The most common apprenticeships are in construction, according to federal data, followed by public administration, education, and manufacturing.

“American employers know what is best for their businesses, including how to develop the skills their workforce needs to be successful,” Good said.