Rule would update Equal Employment Opportunity regulations for first time since 1978
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration announced on Thursday a proposed rule to update existing Equal Employment Opportunity regulations for registered apprenticeship programs. The proposed rule would serve to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans to take part in these apprenticeship programs regardless of race, sex, color, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, or sexual orientation.
In a statement announcing the proposed rule change, the Department of Labor said, “Modernizing and streamlining the rules — which have not been updated since 1978 — will make it easier for employers and program sponsors to effectively grow and diversify their apprenticeship programs.”
The DOL said the proposed rule would amend existing regulations by:
· Extending protections against discrimination to include a broader swath of America’s workforce, including protections based on disability, age (40 or older), sexual orientation, and genetic information
· Simplifying and clarifying the affirmative steps employers and sponsors must take to ensure equal opportunity in apprenticeship
· Providing new apprenticeship programs with more time to develop initial affirmative action programs, as well as providing all apprenticeship programs that meet their responsibilities under the rule with additional
flexibility in how often they must update their plans
· Simplifying and clearly defining the process for analyzing the talent available in the labor market to establish clear and achievable goals for diversity in apprenticeship
· Clarifying the outreach, recruitment, and retention activities expected of employers by specifying four specific and common-sense required activities, such as advertising openings and partnering with educational
institutions to recruit diverse talent
· Creating a more flexible framework for the Office of Apprenticeship and States to provide technical assistance and work with apprenticeship programs that are not meeting their affirmative action
responsibilities to bring them back into compliance
“Since President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, when he challenged employers and educators to double the number of apprenticeships by 2019, the U.S. has had the largest growth in apprenticeships
in nearly a decade,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “As we continue to make substantial progress in expanding apprenticeships in America, we also need to make sure that those opportunities are available to women, communities of color, those with disabilities, and other underserved populations who have struggled to navigate or access this critical onramp to the skills superhighway.”
Apprenticeships provide a clear career path forward through new skills, higher wages and opportunities for advancement. According to the DOL, apprentices who complete their programs earn an average starting yearly salary of more than $50,000, and during their careers they will earn $300,000 more, on average, than their non-apprentice peers.
International studies suggest that for every $1 invested in apprenticeship, employers get $1.47 back in benefits. Employers with apprenticeship programs are mostly happy with them. The DOL stated that 97 percent of businesses with apprenticeship programs would recommend apprenticeship to other companies.
Modernizing and streamlining the rules — which have not been updated since 1978 — is supposed to make it easier for employers and program sponsors to effectively grow and diversify their apprenticeship programs.
The public will have until Jan. 5, 2016, to provide comments on the proposed rule. Comments can be submitted electronically athttp://www.regulations.gov. Additional information about the proposed rule is available at www.doleta.gov/oa/eeo.