Understanding apprenticeships and the importance of the LEAP Act

by Melanie Anderson   •  

On February 15, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) demonstrated their bipartisan relationship and commitment to re-engaging Opportunity Youth by re-introducing the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act, at Opportunity Nation’s first Restoring the American Dream series event. The LEAP Act will increase apprenticeships through a new federal tax credit for employers and offer a $1,000 federal tax credit to companies for each new apprentice they hire.

We know a high school diploma without some form of post-secondary degree, certificate or credential is no longer sufficient to secure a job that pays a family sustaining wage. Apprenticeships are an important pathway beyond a high school diploma that allows for an individual to combine education and on-the-job learning. Apprentices start working and earning on the first day of the program. As former Secretary of Education Tom Perez said, “apprenticeships are the other college, without the debt.”

By the numbers

According to the Department of Labor, there are 400,000 registered apprentices nationwide in more than 1,000 occupations. Studies show that individuals who complete registered apprenticeship programs earn over $240,000 more over their careers than people who do not participate in such programs, and the tax return is $27 on every one Federal Government dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs.

“Apprenticeships allow folks to earn while they learn, providing a level of job certainty for the present and opening new doors in the future,” Senator Scott said. “We can also better sync the needs of employers with the skills of our workforce – a concept that has seen amazing results in South Carolina. In fact, that’s why the LEAP Act builds on the apprenticeship model we use in South Carolina, and seeks to bring that success to the entire nation. I want to thank Senator Booker for again joining forces on this important bill.”

“Apprenticeships are a proven, cost-effective way to equip workers — especially younger workers — with on-the-job skills they need to find a good-paying job in today’s knowledge-based economy,” Sen. Booker said. “I’m proud to again join with Senator Scott to reintroduce our bill to incentivize employers to make key investments in workforce development while tackling our unacceptably high youth unemployment rate.”

The Opportunity Nation policy plan, “Our Opportunity Nation,” recognizes that promoting apprenticeships as a pathway to a career serves a dual benefit in helping Opportunity Youth prepare for success in education, career options and providing employers with the trained employees they need to develop a highly-skilled workforce to meet their labor requirements.

Career and technical education (CTE) and apprenticeships are powerful tools to prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow. As low-skill labor disappears and the job market demands more from its workers, it is essential to train the youth of America for work in emerging, high-demand and high-skill fields.

Both CTE and apprenticeships have proven benefits for students, adults, businesses and the economy and are advancing Opportunity Nation’s goals of re-engaging one million Opportunity Youth a year, achieving an unemployment rate below 5 percent for all and doubling the number of post-secondary degrees, certificates and credentials.

For more on apprenticeships

Jim Steinle, president of Atomic Plumbing in Virginia Beach, VA shares how apprenticeships can revitalize America.

Senator Scott’s LEAP Act website announcement:

Senator Booker’s LEAP Act fact sheet:

Melanie Anderson Melanie Anderson is the Director of Government and External Affairs at Opportunity Nation. She directs the campaign’s government relations and policy efforts. Read Melanie's bio.

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