by Mathew Dembicki
Both sides of the aisle in Congress champion the value of apprenticeships in developing skilled workers for available jobs. But the common ground ends there: Democrats prefer government-recognized registered apprenticeships, while Republicans lean toward industry-recognized apprenticeships, which include fewer rules and regulations.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Thursday held a hearing that focused on modernizing apprenticeships to expand opportunities. The opening statements from committee chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) and ranking minority member Sen. Patty Murray (Washington) set the debate, with Alexander arguing that registered apprenticeships limit creativity and flexibility that employers seek because of cumbersome administrative red tape. More companies want less-formal, industry-recognized apprenticeships that allow them to work on specific skill sets, he said, adding they also are more appealing to industries such as health care and information technology that don’t traditionally offer apprenticeships.