A new study of apprenticeship programs in Connecticut has produced two legislative proposals that are set for a public hearing on Monday, February 29 at 1 pm.
The legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee introduced the bills based on its study, Apprenticeship Programs & Work Force Needs, which focuses on apprenticeships and the state Department of Labor (DOL).
While neither bill calls for wholesale changes to the current system, they offer a good opportunity to voice specific concerns about the current system and provide feedback on the proposed changes.
SB 169 requires the DOL to update the apprenticeship training parts of their website by:
- Simplifying the process for apprentices and employers to access information relating to apprenticeships
- Listing which occupations have apprentices and how many
- Providing information regarding the relevant coursework to an apprenticeship including educational institutions
SB 215 includes some technical changes, and:
- Deletes the existing requirement for the apprenticeship agreement to be “consistent with recognized requirements established by industry or joint labor-industry practice” and instead inserts a new definition of “approved trade training” that must be consistent with requirements established by DOL. (Section 1)
- Requires DOL to offer apprenticeship in all licensed occupations that meet the minimum on-the-job training course requirements for apprenticeship and conduct outreach to employers to increase sponsors of apprenticeships. Also requires DOL to explore the feasibility of creating an “Employment Trainee Office”. (Section 5)
- Requires DOL to convene a working group to develop trade training requirements and directs DOL and the Department of Consumer Protection to adopt regulations to implement the work of the group (after it has been reviewed). (Section 6)
Meanwhile, lawmakers in two other committees are considering proposals to support apprenticeships in Connecticut.
The Commerce Committee is hearing a bill (HB 5423) on Tuesday, March 1, that’s aimed at encouraging middle and high school students to get interested in manufacturing careers. Connecticut manufactures are facing a talent shortage to fill the highly skilled openings in their facilities. This goal of this bill is to develop a pipeline of young students that will focus their education on learning these highly skilled jobs.
The Education Committee is addressing a related issue of the pipeline of teachers for manufacturing programs. Educational programs are facing a challenge finding experienced teachers to teach the skills that are needed by today's manufacturers. HB 5468 will likely be heard by the committee on Wednesday, March 2. It creates a task force aimed at figuring out how to address finding more teachers.