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What Are Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs?

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An Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) is “a program that has been recognized by a proven industry Standards Recognition Entity (SRE) as being high quality.” This customizable model of apprenticeship is designed to ensure that apprentices are gaining exceptional knowledge, experience, and value from their apprenticeship. However, proposed legislation aims to disqualify the construction industry from taking part in IRAPs, and the industry is divided on whether or not this is the right move.

As we’ve discussed in past articles, expanding apprenticeships in America is an important way for the construction industry to contend with the lack of skilled construction workers occupying its dwindling labor pool. Although the future of IRAPs in the construction industry is uncertain, it’s important that contractors understand the value of these programs and work diligently to save them from becoming a thing of the past. In this article, the Memphis construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will explain everything contractors should know about IRAPs.

Dividing the Field

The idea of exempting the construction industry from IRAPs has drawn criticism from major contractor groups like the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). On the other hand, building trade unions are praising the plan. 

If the construction industry is exempt from IRAPs, it will open the door for industry groups, associations, educational institutions, states and localities, unions, and other organizations to become Standards Recognition Entities (SREs), which are responsible for establishing benchmarks for training and curriculum creation for IRAPs in various industries. These SREs would then be overseen by the Department of Labor (DOL). This differs from current protocols, which require individual apprentices and apprenticeship programs to register with state agencies.

More Apprentices Choose Construction

According to DOL figures, construction had more active apprentices than any other industry with a staggering 166,629 total apprentices in 2018. For reference, the military ranked second with 98,435. Other industries don’t even come close. Take the manufacturing industry for example, which ranked fourth overall but only had 15,630 apprentices. Clearly, apprenticeship is an important part of the construction industry, both for employers and workers. That said, the current system for apprenticeship is largely successful, which is why there is resistance to change among some parties.

Stephen Sandherr, Associated General Contractors of America president and chief executive officer, believes it is “too difficult for many firms and their partners to establish apprenticeship programs for construction workers.” He believes that the obstacles for apprenticeship “often include the excessive costs incurred during the rigid and inflexible registration process.”

What do you think? Do IRAPs have a future in the construction industry? 

If you would like to speak with a Memphis construction attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.