NAHB Urges Changes to Labor Department National Apprenticeship System Proposal

Labor
Published
Contact: Brad Mannion
bmannion@nahb.org
(202) 266-8265

NAHB has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) urging the agency to modify and clarify key provisions in its proposal to enhance the national apprenticeship system.

DOL proposed significant changes to the national apprenticeship system earlier this year. NAHB views apprenticeship as a critical path to training more skilled trades professionals for work in home building.

Although NAHB acknowledges the need for certain changes to be made to the national apprenticeship system, some of which are addressed in this proposed rulemaking, NAHB members and staff recommended key revisions to the DOL’s final rule.

Rule Restricts Flexibility and Innovation

DOL’s current practices allow apprenticeship programs to use either a time-based or competency-based approach, which allows for greater flexibility and takes into account an apprentice’s experiences before participating in the program, such as pre-apprenticeship training and certifications. 

However, the proposed rule removes that flexibility and will require all programs to take a time-based approach, with each program having a minimum of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of off-the-job training. 

Additionally, the provision on suitability determinations removes power from the state-run apprenticeship programs and runs counter to the typical growth-oriented practice of apprenticeship programs.

DOL Must Clarify Key Terms

On suitability determinations, DOL’s argument that a program must lead to a “sustainable career” is very vague and must be defined. Likewise, a provision that is intended to avoid duplicative programs for different but similar occupations should be removed from the final rule, or short of removal, there should be supplemental guidance that defines the phrase “replicates a significant proportion of work.”

DOL Must Revise its Cost Estimate

NAHB believes DOL’s cost estimate for program sponsors is significantly lower than the actual expected costs to comply. For example, DOL estimates data collection and recordkeeping costs for program sponsors would be roughly $250 in the first year after these requirements are in effect, but industry stakeholders have publicly stated they would need to hire additional staff simply to comply with the new recordkeeping requirements in the proposal. 

In addition to its letter, NAHB signed on to a letter sent by the Jobs and Careers Coalition, a group of trade organizations, that also argued for additional flexibility in the final rule.

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