The bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act of 2023, if signed into law, would invest more than $3.8 billion over five years and create almost a million new opportunities, Andrea Price-Carter, director, workforce and technology at LeadingAge, told the McKnight’s Business Daily.

The legislation, which would reauthorize the Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship program and amend the National Apprenticeship Act of Aug. 16, 1937, has been introduced by the House Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

“These resources help increase and expand apprenticeship opportunities into new and in-demand industry sectors, such as aging services, and occupations, including nursing, environmental services, culinary, respiratory therapists, direct care supervisors, and resident care advisors,” Price-Carter said.

LeadingAge, she added, recommended that the national apprenticeship system research “address best practices for increasing apprenticeship populations research related to aging services occupations” and “asked that the apprenticeship grant requirements be revised to specifically identify nonprofit aging services providers as a key sector that should be supported as an eligible entity.”

The Registered Apprenticeship program is the most successful federally authorized workforce development program, according to a fact sheet published by House Democrats.

“According to the Department of Labor, 93% of people who complete a RA are employed upon completion, earning an average starting wage of above $77,000 annually,” according to the fact sheet. “Additionally, businesses earn $1.44 back for every dollar invested toward their apprentices in a RA program.”

The National Apprenticeship Act of 2023 would authorize $400 million for the program for fiscal year 2025, increasing the amount by $100 million annually to $800 million for fiscal year 2029. The bill would codify and streamline standards for registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, according to its backers.

The American Association of Health Care / National Center for Assisted Living told the McKnight’s Business Daily that it appreciates the support for apprenticeships “and any effort that will bring more caregivers to our long-term care sector.”

“Nursing homes are experiencing a historic workforce crisis, and it will take a multi-pronged approach to help rebuild our workforce — apprenticeships are one important piece of that puzzle,” the association’s statement said. “Moving forward, we need Congress to prioritize workforce development programs and resources specifically for long term care.” 

In a previous effort to bolster its registered apprenticeship program, the Labor Department announced last year the offering of $113 million in grant funding to pay for worker apprenticeship programs.Argentum also launched a grant program last year as part of a $6 million DOL grant, to train apprentices in key senior living and allied health occupations. Argentum was one of 28 public-private partnerships to receive a collective $100 million. The association has a goal of enrolling and supporting more than 7,200 apprentices by February 2024.