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US Launches New Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the first round of standards recognition entities (SRE) and the first industry-recognized apprenticeship program (IRAP) under its new guidelines.
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Raytheon Technologies is founding the first Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP), a new form of U.S. Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship meant to create job opportunities for American workers. The National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) serves as the standards recognition entity (SRE) overseeing Raytheon’s program.

IRAP has different requirements and responsibilities from its “registered apprenticeships” predecessor. IRAP is currently only available in the Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare and IT industries – other industries will continue with registered apprenticeships. IRAP is a competency-based program, meaning apprentices gain qualifications through exams and performance measures rather than years worked. Greg Jones, vice president of Smartforce Development with AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, says this program will “incentivize companies to launch apprenticeships again” by also rerouting administration to SREs.

This announcement follows U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia’s visit to NIMS’ headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, where he discussed apprenticeship expansion with NIMS Executive Director Montez King and representatives of the inaugural cohort of 18 SREs. 

Additionally, Secretary Scalia participated in a virtual roundtable discussion with SREs to discuss how they will work with employers and other entities to establish, recognize and monitor high-quality IRAPs.

“We appreciate the work that's been done to ensure employers are the ones determining what training approach best suits their needs,” National Institute of Metalworking Skills’ executive director Montez King says.

SREs are third-party industry and workforce leaders that evaluate and recognize high-quality IRAPs, consistent with the Department’s standards. The 18 SREs announced last week were recognized following a rigorous review from the Department to ensure they have the capacity and quality-assurance procedures needed to monitor IRAPs. SRE recognition is valid for five years.

The Department remains committed to fulfilling critical workforce needs. It believes innovative and flexible strategies like apprenticeship will be essential to addressing the workforce-related impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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