July 26, 2018
The Honorable Lamar Alexander The Honorable Patty Murray
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate HELP Committee Senate HELP Committee
428 Dirksen Senate Office Building 428 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Re: Hearing on “Modernizing Apprenticeships to Expand Opportunities”
Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:
Thank you for holding today’s hearing, “Modernizing Apprenticeships to Expand Opportunities”. The Construction Employers of America (“CEA”) and the 15,000 signatory contractors and 1.4 million employees we represent understand the critical role quality, accredited apprenticeship programs play in ensuring there is a robust, highly-trained workforce to meet the construction needs that drive our economy and which will employ the next generation of builders and contractors. CEA and our member organizations believe that the current federal framework for apprenticeship programs effectively supports our industry, and any effort to federally subsidize construction apprenticeships is unnecessary and would irrationally reward firms that have failed to invest in the future our of industry.
CEA’s member organizations independently finance 1,000 apprentice training centers across the country. With over 100,000 future construction workers currently enrolled in our apprenticeship programs, we are creating a path to prosperity for blue collar workers that are the backbone of America. CEA contractors have invested significantly in apprenticeship programs, even providing paid “on the job” instruction for our apprentices. We rely on the federal government and Department of Labor to ensure apprenticeship program quality through accreditation, not through taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Quality apprenticeship programs are vital to the continued growth and success of the construction and specialty trade industries. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee should continue to examine the rigor of apprenticeship programs, and Congress must continue to exercise its oversight authority to ensure that the Department of Labor and other federal agencies maintain and strengthen the quality of apprenticeship programs as policymakers seek to expand their use in the United States. However, it would be unwise for the Committee to consider unnecessary taxpayer subsidization as an effective tool to “modernize” apprenticeships.
In May, President Trump’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion submitted its strategy to provide additional apprenticeship opportunities for the next generation of American workers. Secretary Acosta, in coordination with Secretaries DeVos and Ross, spent nearly a year studying the labor market and the training and career paths available to our skilled construction workers. We urge the Committee to critically examine the Task Force’s recommendations, and work with the Trump Administration, the specialty trades, and industry leaders to consider thoughtful proposals that reward hard work and long-term investments in the construction industry.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony for the hearing record. We look forward to continued discussions with you and your staff to support rigorous apprenticeship programs. CEA’s seven employer associations include FCA International, International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association, Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you or your staff to discuss the most appropriate role for the federal government in ensuring apprenticeship programs meet the needs of America’s construction industry. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202-637-6820 with any questions or to speak to our associations and their members.
Construction Employers of America
CC: Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee