Legislation to expand apprenticeship opportunities for veterans

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U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand opportunities for veterans to register for apprenticeships.

The Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act would require that veterans are included in Department of Labor (DOL) standards for registered apprenticeship programs.

It would also improve the coordination between the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure that veterans across the country know they can use their GI Bill benefits to support their apprenticeships in a variety of in-demand fields.

This bipartisan bill aims to address the significant discrepancy between the number of registered apprenticeships registered by the Department of Labor and the amount of programs veterans can apply their GI Bill benefits toward. In Michigan, there are currently more than 1,000 active registered apprenticeships, but only 353 are listed as approved by the VA.

“The men and women who sacrificed so much to defend our way of life deserve every opportunity to pursue their professional dreams after their service,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation would help veterans connect with apprenticeship programs where they can put their unique skill sets to work and transition back to civilian life.”

“We owe so much to the brave men and women who put the lives on the line in service to our country and in defense of the principles we hold dear. As we continue to provide a range of resources for our veterans, it’s important that we also make sure they have access to them,” said Senator Capito. “This legislation will help ensure our veterans are fully aware of the apprenticeship opportunities available to them and empower them to achieve future success in the workforce.”

“At first, I wasn’t aware that my VA benefits could go towards an employer sponsored registered apprenticeship – and after I found out, I was able to use those benefits to help build my skills and career as a union sheet metal worker. Ultimately, I was able to use this training as articulated credit towards a college degree,” said Rick Donovan, State Legislative Officer, Polish Legion of American Veterans Department of Michigan. “More veterans and eligible family members need to be made aware of these apprenticeship opportunities, and streamlining the process would be beneficial so that they may obtain meaningful employment while using earned GI Bill benefits. The Polish Legion of American Veterans Department of Michigan encourages the passage of the Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeship Act, and we appreciate Senator Peters for introducing this effort.”

“The Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act introduced by Senator Peters and Senator Capito recognizes the importance of apprenticeship programs working with veterans to transition their skills into civilian credentials and a good-paying job,” said John P. Yori II, President, United Soldiers and Sailors of America. “This bill takes a critical step in ensuring veterans are able to take advantage of their GI Bill benefits to cover basic expenses, including for housing.”

“The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS) commend the goals of the Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act introduced by Senators Peters and Capito,” said Joe Wynn, Advisor to VVA and Legislative Liaison for NABVETS. “This bill will elevate the level of awareness among employers and veterans regarding the use of GI Bill benefits for registered apprenticeships.”

The Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act would increase access for veterans to registered apprenticeship programs in which they learn skills through paid on-the-job experiences that result in a nationally recognized credential upon completion.

The bill will specifically direct the Department of Labor to include the following requirements in its regulations for registered apprenticeship programs:

Apprenticeship programs will need to commit to following through with the expedited process for gaining VA approval after registering, which is required in order for veterans to use their GI Bill benefits for housing and other basic expenses as an apprentice.

The Department of Labor will need to provide a copy of the certificate of registration to the VA for newly registered apprenticeship programs. This would enable the VA to be proactive in contacting apprenticeship sponsors to complete the approval processes.

Apprenticeships will agree to provide advanced standing or credit in the program—along with a commensurate wage increase—to account for participants’ demonstrated skill sets and prior experiences, including those acquired during military service.

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