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President Obama Announces American Apprenticeship Initiative

The Department of Labor is inviting public-private partnerships to apply for grants to develop and implement innovative, high-quality registered apprenticeship programs. Up to $100 million in grants will be financed by a user fee paid by employers to hire foreign workers into the United States under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program. This grant competition will help more Americans become apprentices, a proven path to quality employment and the middle class: 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is over $50,000. The American Apprenticeship Grants competition will focus on public-private partnerships between employers, business associations, joint labor-management organizations, labor organizations, training providers, community colleges, local and state governments, the workforce system, non-profits and faith-based organizations.

Goal of American Apprenticeship Grants

Goals for the American Apprenticeship Grants include the following:

  • Support the expansion of quality and innovative American Apprenticeship programs into high-growth occupation(s) and industry(s), particularly those for which employers are using H-1B visas to hire foreign workers, and the related activities necessary to support such programs;
  • Create career pathways that encompass American Apprenticeship and align with other post-secondary educational offerings;
  • Use strategies to significantly increase apprenticeship opportunities for job seekers and workers (particularly for women and other underrepresented populations in apprenticeship, including young men and women of color, people with disabilities; low-skilled populations; and veterans, including transitioning service members); and
  • Leverage and develop public policies that increase demand for American Apprenticeship and support sustainability.

The AAG funding specifically aims to fund projects that create career pathways that encompass American Apprenticeship and align with other post-secondary educational offerings; and leverage and develop public policies that increase demand for American Apprenticeship and support sustainability. Grant projects under AAG must focus on helping more employers and workers participate in American Apprenticeships within industries and occupations for which employers are using H-1B visas to hire foreign workers. Industries include, but are not limited to, Information Technology, and/or other high-growth industries including but not limited to Advanced Manufacturing, Business Services, and Healthcare; and the types of high-demand skill sets (e.g., digital and information technology skills) now required across most industries

Who is Eligible to Apply for Funding?

Grants under this program will be awarded to a partnership of private and public sector entities. To be eligible to compete for funding under this solicitation, the applicant must show evidence of a public-private consortium that consists of at least one each from the following:

  1. Private Sector: A business, a consortium of businesses, a business-related nonprofit organization, a joint labor-management organization, a labor organization, or a private organization functioning as a workforce intermediary for the express purpose of serving the needs of businesses; and
  2. Public Sector: At least one representative from one of the following three types of entities:  the workforce investment system; public education or training provider; or a DOL-recognized State Apprenticeship Agency.

Grants will be awarded to a lead applicant within the primary partnership, which will serve as the grantee and have overall fiscal and administrative responsibility for the grant.  A lead applicant must be a public or non-profit organization that meets the definition of one of the types of eligible entities.  (See the eligible private and public sector entities above).

Who Will these Grant Serve?

Participants served through the project can be either: a) youth that are at least 16 years of age and not currently enrolled in school within a local secondary educational agency (i.e., high school) or, b) at least 18 years of age. One of the key goals of the AAG is to open up access to apprenticeship opportunities for underrepresented populations. Projects should demonstrate strategies to employ and train underserved populations in apprenticeship such as women, young men and women of color, persons with disabilities, low-skilled populations, veterans, including transitioning service members, and others.

Grant Awards

Approximately $100 million is expected to be available to fund approximately 25 grants. Grant awards are expected to range from awards of approximately $2.5 million - $5 million. A minimum of $2.5 million will be awarded through each grant. The maximum award will be $5 million.

Projects funder under the AAG will identify key innovations that seek to train significant numbers of new apprentices and scale apprenticeship programs at a statewide, multi-state, regional, or national level and play a catalytic role in American Apprenticeship expansion. Projects are required to leverage a wide range of other private and public sector resources to ensure significant scaling of apprenticeship in terms of the number of new programs and numbers of new apprentices served.

Allowable activities under this grant must help employers grow a more productive workforce and assist workers in gaining the skills and competencies needed to obtain or upgrade employment in high-growth industries and occupations, or along career pathways for such industries and occupations.

Examples of allowable activities that may be funded by AAG grant funds include:

  1. On-the-Job Learning (OJL)
  2. Job-Related Technical Instruction (RTI)
  3. Pre-Apprenticeship Training
  4. Sector strategy and career pathway development activities
  5. Partnership building activities
  6. Development of outreach and promotion to support increased awareness of American Apprenticeship

The period of performance is 60 months.

This performance period includes all necessary implementation and start-up activities. The process for program development and registration should begin immediately and apprenticeship enrollments should be expedited, with the expectation of apprentice enrollments to begin in the first 12 months of the grant.