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Bonamici, Ferguson, Davis, Guthrie Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Apprenticeships

February 7, 2019
Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC [02/07/19] –Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced bipartisan legislation to support apprenticeships and work-based learning programs to provide workers with meaningful pathways to better paying jobs, and to connect businesses with workers who have the skills they need.


Bonamici, Ferguson, Davis, and Guthrie introduced the Promoting Apprenticeships through Regional Training Networks for Employers’ Required Skills (PARTNERS) Act on Wednesday. The PARTNERS Act would establish a grant program to support the creation and expansion of industry partnerships to help small and medium-sized businesses develop work-based learning programs and provide mentoring and support services for workers. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is leading similar legislation in the Senate.


You can read a summary of the bill here and a copy of the text here.


“Stronger investments in apprenticeships will get more people into better paying, stable careers and provide our nation’s businesses with the skilled workforce they need,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized businesses lack the infrastructure and resources to establish apprenticeships on their own. The bipartisan PARTNERS Act will help by bringing together employers, education, training, labor, and community-based organizations to facilitate the creation of paid, on-the-job training programs that meet the needs of employers and provide workers with important support services and training. As a leader on the Education and Labor Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find additional ways to promote and bolster apprenticeships.”


“Workers across our nation need access to work-based training to compete on the world stage,” said Congressman Drew Ferguson. “Programs like the Central Education Center in Newnan led Georgia by implementing an innovative style of apprenticeship that prepares our young people for 21st century careers. As we work to provide these opportunities, we must also face the stark realities of our current fiscal situation. Using H1-B visa fees to fund a direct path into the workplace is a fiscally responsible solution to ensure workers receive skills for success at no cost to the American taxpayer. I am proud to be joining my colleagues to reintroduce this legislation and will continue to work towards innovative solutions that give every American the opportunity to live the American dream.”


“Expanding apprenticeships is necessary if we are going to create the highly-skilled workforce America needs,” said Congresswoman Susan Davis. “There is a real opportunity to build on the success of apprenticeship programs and the PARTNERS Act will play a key role as part of that larger effort.”


“Every time I meet with businesses in my district, I hear from them that they can’t find enough skilled workers,” said Congressman Brett Guthrie. “Apprenticeships are a great way for people to learn new, applicable skills while earning money. Unfortunately, small and medium-sized businesses – the backbone of our growing economy – sometimes lack the resources to support a fully-fledged apprenticeship program. I was proud to cosponsor the bipartisan PARTNERS Act, which helps solve this problem by allowing smaller businesses to join together with other community partners to create work-based learning opportunities for individuals who most need them.”


“Our country needs to expand apprenticeship to help more businesses and working people get the skills to succeed in our economy,” said Katie Spiker, Senior Federal Policy Analyst at the National Skills Coalition. “This bill will target federal investments to the local level – bringing companies in the same industry together and helping them place motivated workers at waiting worksites. Workers will earn a paycheck while they learn valuable skills. Businesses will fill critical jobs. It's a win-win."


Bonamici and Ferguson first introduced the PARTNERS Act in 2017, and reintroduced it yesterday. Bonamici crafted the legislation with input from the National Skills Coalition, Oregon Employment Department, Worksystems, Inc., and Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships, and Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP) have endorsed the bill.


Bonamici supported the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) when it passed Congress in 2014, and has led efforts to increase funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grants. Last year, Bonamici and Guthrie introduced a bipartisan resolution to recognize September as National Workforce Development Month.