The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a final rule designed to help expand apprenticeships in the country by updating the process used to evaluate them.

The final rule establishes a system for advancing the development of high-quality Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, known as IRAPs.

The rule creates a process for the Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship administrator, or anyone designated by the administrator, to recognize qualified third-party entities, known as Standard Recognition Entities, or SREs.

These SREs will evaluate and recognize IRAPs.

The final rule describes what entities may become SREs, the standards of the IRAPs that the SREs will recognize, and how the administrator will oversee the SREs.

Individuals can use these programs to get workplace-relevant training and advancing skills that result in an industry-recognized credential while getting paid to work.

Trade and industry groups, corporations, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, unions, and joint labor-management organizations develop or operate IRAPs.

Process

"Apprenticeships are widely recognized to be a highly effective job-training approach for American workers and for employers seeking the skilled workforce needed in today’s changing workplace," said labor secretary Eugene Scalia.

"This new rule offers employers, community colleges, and others a flexible, innovative way to quickly expand apprenticeship in telecommunications, healthcare, cybersecurity, and other sectors where apprenticeships currently are not widely available."

The final rule outlines the process third-party entities interested in evaluating and recognizing IRAPs should follow.

Many types of entities may become recognized SREs.

The rule outlines the process third-party entities interested in evaluating and recognizing IRAPs should follow.

These include companies, certification and accreditation bodies for a profession or industry, educational institutions, state and local governments, non-profits, trade groups, unions, and joint labor-management organizations.

The final rule also outlines responsibilities and requirements for SREs, department standards programs must meet to obtain and maintain IRAP status, and describes how the administrator will oversee SREs.

The final rule stemmed from an executive order President Trump signed in June 2017, directing the labor secretary to consider regulations that promote the development of apprenticeship programs by third parties.