Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin is championing legislation to expand apprenticeships and public-private partnerships. Under the proposal known as the Partners Act (Pairing Apprenticeships with Regional Training Networks to meet Employer Requirements), states would request funds from the Labor Department to start or expand public-private apprenticeship initiatives.
“In Wisconsin, I’ve seen how public-private partnerships can best address the workforce readiness challenges we face,” Senator Baldwin said. “This new legislation will scale up our apprenticeship programs and provide more people with the skills they need to succeed. If we invest in public-private partnerships, we can boost workforce readiness and provide our businesses the skilled workers they need to grow our economy.”
Businesses – especially small and medium-sized businesses – often lack the infrastructure to establish apprenticeships or work-based learning programs on their own. Senator Baldwin’s legislation calls for establishing a program to provide states with grants that will help create or expand local public-private partnership apprenticeship initiatives.
“We were fortunate to be at the table from the beginning with partners including area technical colleges and employers,” said Employ Milwaukee CEO Willie Wade.
“As the first ever regional collaboration of urban workforce development boards we understand better than most the importance of apprenticeship programs,” said MUS director Tracey Carey. “We’re excited about the Partners Act.”
The Department of Labor has made apprenticeships a key area of focus. Earlier this summer, President Trump signed an executive order that called for the federal government to reduce its role in creating and monitoring apprenticeships and allow private entities to take the lead.
With the PARTNERS Act, states would submit applications to the Secretary of Labor for local initiatives to start or expand apprenticeship programs. The state would then provide grants of up to $500,000 for two years to local public-private partnerships to bring industry and education partners together to start and run work-based training programs, as well as worker support services that help businesses develop apprenticeship initiatives.