A new rule proposed by the Department of Labor would modernize regulations for apprenticeships that fall under the National Apprenticeship System with a move toward a more student-centric model, the department says.

The approach, designed to make enrollment more seamless for full-time high school and community college students, is modeled after high-quality youth apprenticeship systems in states across the country, according to the DOL.

“Equity and job quality have marked the most successful Registered Apprenticeship programs for workers and employers alike. This proposed rule codifies the Department of Labor’s strong commitment to these principles,” Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su said in a press release. “Importantly, the proposed changes will also provide strong worker protections, improved employer experiences and greater clarity about the roles of federal and state governments and their partners in the National Apprenticeship System.”

According to the DOL, the proposed rule would also include the following enhancements: 

  • Strengthening of labor standards, quality and worker protections by making occupational skills and training more portable, enhancing alignment with postsecondary education and providing better performance data. 
  • Better defining roles for state apprenticeship agencies and other stakeholders within the National Apprenticeship System.
  • Codifying of the Office of Apprenticeship’s role for national leadership, promotion and standards.
  • Promoting apprenticeship pathways, including pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship readiness programs, by expanding performance and data requirements to improve accountability, transparency and program outcomes. 

Apprenticeships are gaining ground in senior living and care, with Argentum’s Healthcare Apprenticeship Expand Program as one example. HAEP was initiated through the association as part of a $6 million US Department of Labor 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 outlined a goal of enrolling and supporting more than 7,200 apprentices by February.

HAEP participants also can receive financial support and care management services through a relatively new partnership with Work Well, which helps apprentices persist in their programs, overcome barriers and reach their professional goals. That support can come in the form of utility assistance, child care, home repair, medical emergency assistance, eviction assistance, financial literacy education and more.

Apprenticeships also are part of a national coalition’s plans to address fundamental issues facing skilled nursing facilities. Plans of the Moving Forward Nursing Home Quality Coalition, formed in the wake of a 2022 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that industry leaders described as a wake-up call, include a pilot for a nurse aide apprenticeship program.

The Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration is sponsoring a webinar on the National Apprenticeship System proposed rule Jan. 11 from 2 to 3 p.m. ET.