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Spanberger Spearheads Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Apprenticeship Opportunities for Central Virginia Students

The Strengthening Our Youth Apprenticeships Act Would Encourage Collaboration Between Schools & Industry Leaders

Washington, October 1, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger co-led the introduction of bipartisan legislation to support youth apprenticeship programs in Central Virginia and across the country.

Spanberger helped introduce the Strengthening Our Youth Apprenticeships Act, which would create a new interagency apprenticeship agreement between the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education. Through this collaboration, both departments would share publicly available guidance and best practices to support youth apprenticeship programs in both secondary and postsecondary education institutions.

Spanberger led the introduction of the bipartisan bill alongside U.S. Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02).

“Across Virginia, local apprenticeships provide opportunities for the next generation to learn the skills necessary to secure high-skilled jobs and stay competitive in a global economy. As we work toward our long-term economic recovery, we need to make sure high school and college students are able to access these programs,” said Spanberger. “Our federal agencies should work together toward achieving this goal, and our bipartisan legislation builds much-needed collaboration between the Department of Labor and the Department of Education. I’d like to thank Congressman Castro and Congressman Guthrie for recognizing the importance of strengthening youth apprenticeship programs, and I look forward to building stronger, sustained relationships between community colleges, high schools, and local businesses.”

“Apprenticeships are an important avenue for young people to gain new skills and get a sense of what job they may pursue, but they should also be an opportunity to gain college credit and a steppingstone to a higher-paying career. The Strengthening Our Youth Apprenticeships Act will help ensure that we build a strong infrastructure of opportunity in America for the next generation to reach their dreams,” said Castro. “The future of our economy depends on our future workforce — that’s why it’s vital for the Department of Labor and Education to work together to strengthen apprenticeships and for Congress to expand these programs to more young people.”

“Apprenticeships are a great way for employees to learn a new skill while earning a wage, and for students, an apprenticeship can set them on the right trajectory for a good career,” said Guthrie. “Our economy is rapidly evolving, and one thing I hear from employers in the Second District is that they need skilled employees. The Strengthening Our Youth Apprenticeship Act will help facilitate the creation of apprenticeship programs for younger employees and provide supportive services such as career planning.  I was proud to join Reps. Castro and Spanberger to introduce this bipartisan legislation to help high school and college students obtain apprenticeship opportunities.”

Additionally, the bipartisan bill would fund a necessary expansion of recognized apprenticeship programs — including partnerships between community colleges and local businesses.

The Strengthening Our Youth Apprenticeships Act is endorsed by New America, Advance Career Technical Education, and the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Click here to read the full bill text.

BACKGROUND

The Strengthening Our Youth Apprenticeships Act builds on Spanberger’s work to strengthen workforce training opportunities and support for students across the Seventh District.

In December 2019, Spanberger and U.S. Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) introduced a bipartisan bill to allow Virginia students and workers to use their 529 savings accounts to cover the cost of certain training and credentialing programs.

And in November 2019, Spanberger backed bipartisan legislation that would expand Pell Grant eligibility for qualifying short-term programs and give more Central Virginia students access to workforce training courses. During her two-day education tour in August 2019, Spanberger met with instructors and administrators at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College’s Goochland campus. During the visit, she learned more about the college’s commercial truck driver training courses—and she heard directly about the need for expanded Pell Grant eligibility to meet the financial needs of current and future students.

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