Apprenticeship programs enable individuals to learn trades and occupations through on-the-job training and related supplemental instruction (RSI). Journey-level craft persons or trade professionals generally supervise on-the-job training. Employer- or union-sponsored schools or community or technical colleges offer the technical instruction. Registered apprenticeship programs must have the following elements:
Most registered apprenticeship programs take around two to five years to complete, and apprentices earn wages while learning their trade or occupation. Upon completing apprenticeship programs, apprentices receive completion certificates and are recognized nationwide as qualified journey-level workers. The certificates are issued by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council (Council), which is the entity that establishes standards and registers apprenticeship programs. The Council is housed within the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and is certified by the United State Department of Labor to register apprenticeship programs.
Apprenticeship Preparation Programs.
In 2012, the Council issued a recognition policy to put parameters around apprenticeship preparation programs. Apprenticeship preparation programs include pre-apprenticeship programs which often help candidates meet or exceed the minimum qualifications of entry for a registered apprenticeship program, many of which are highly competitive, and programs focused on providing career experience for high school students. Apprenticeship preparation programs vary, but most range from three to six months in length with either part-time or full-time requirements.
Industry Sector-Based Platform.
For all active, registered apprenticeship programs, or when a new program gains approval, the Council must establish an economic or industry sector-based platform. Platforms may be in building trades, manufacturing and engineering, health care and behavioral health, education and early learning, information and communications technology, biotechnology and life sciences, hospitality, and maritime. Any platform established must have an equal number of employer and employee organization representatives and all must:
The L&I must assign an industry liaison to support each platform, and each platform must annually report to the Council on participation in apprenticeship programs, progress in developing new apprenticeships, and any review of required classroom and on-the-job training standards. The L&I must consult with the United States Department of Labor about opportunities for Washington employers to participate in apprenticeships and to pursue federal grants for apprentices and apprenticeships.
Committee for State Agency Apprenticeships.
The Governor must establish a committee of state agency human resources managers to develop apprenticeship programs for state agencies. The committee will involve the exclusive collective bargaining representatives and public sector agencies conducting work study programs that enable high school graduates to achieve entry-level employment and placement in apprenticeships as potential apprenticeship pathways are considered and developed. The industrial insurance apprenticeship program at L&I must be used as a model.
Future Sustainability Assessment.
New apprenticeship programs seeking approval from the Council must provide a future sustainability assessment. When evaluating applications, the Council must consider whether graduating apprentices will move toward a living wage, if there is a career ladder available, or the existence of other nonwage benefits as factors in the approval process. The Council must annually report, beginning December 15, 2022, to the Legislature on a list of apprenticeship programs that applied for state approval, whether the programs were approved or denied, and the reasons for any denials.
Subject to appropriations, the L&I is responsible for managing, overseeing, establishing application procedures and criteria, and awarding grants for the following newly established grant programs:
Subject to appropriation, the L&I must establish application and award procedures to provide vouchers to cover the cost of driver's education courses for minors enrolled in apprenticeship programs.
Apprentice Retention Study.
The L&I must conduct an apprentice retention study of registered apprentices. The study must collect data from apprentices that are six months into their apprenticeship on the barriers and challenges new apprentices encounter that may prevent them from continuing. The L&I must aggregate the data collected by trade and annually post the data on its website in a data dashboard. The L&I must use the data collected to work with apprenticeship coordinators to implement an early alert response system to connect apprentices with needed support and wrap-around services. A report by L&I is due to the Legislature by December 1, 2026, on the key findings and recommendations on the barriers and challenges in retaining apprentices. The study expires December 31, 2027.
Study for Apprenticeship Utilization.
The L&I must develop a list of options for incentivizing apprenticeship use in the private sector, especially in nontraditional industries or smaller employers that have lower apprenticeship utilization rates. The L&I is also tasked with assessing the lack of local apprenticeship programs in rural communities and the logistical burdens, including travel time, and developing policy options for alleviating these issues. The L&I must submit a report to the Legislature by September 30, 2023, detailing the list of options for incentivizing apprenticeship utilization and policy recommendations. This requirement expires December 31, 2023.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Reports.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), in collaboration with Career Connect Washington, must submit a report to the Legislature by December 1, 2022, detailing the requirements for, options for, barriers to, and any legislative actions necessary for high schools to have an annual career pathways day for students in their junior year. Also by December 1, 2022, the OSPI, in collaboration with L&I, must submit a legislative report identifying opportunities and challenges for expansion, enhancement, and sustainability of high quality career and technical education. The report must identify existing pre-apprenticeship programs and existing career and technical education programs that could become registered pre-apprenticeship programs. The reporting requirements expire December 31, 2023.