Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, David Scott Unveil Effort to Increase Access to Apprenticeships for Young African Americans

May 20, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and David Scott (D-GA), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, introduced the Jobs, On-the-Job ‘Earn While You Learn’ Training and Apprenticeships for Young African Americans Act of 2021. The legislation would encourage the U.S. Department of Labor to work with African American organizations and labor unions to recruit and hire African Americans in registered apprenticeship (RA) programs.

Offering hands-on training opportunities, virtually zero student debt and the potential to advance in high-quality jobs, RA programs provide participants with the economic mobility needed to build wealth and a pathway toward high earning careers across a number of in-demand industries. However, according to data from the Department of Labor, African Americans have one of the lowest rates of participation in apprenticeship programs.

“Apprenticeship programs have proven to be one of the most effective ways to provide skills-training, good-paying job opportunities, and economic security for millions of American workers,” said Congressman Cleaver. “However, many registered apprenticeship programs fail to reflect the diversity of the American public, which eliminates an important rung from select communities as the next generation of Americans seek to climb the economic ladder. I’m proud to introduce this critical legislation with Chairman Scott to ensure Black communities have greater opportunities to participate in these training programs, leading to high-quality jobs and a more equitable economy.”

“The COVID-19 crisis has confirmed what many in our communities already know firsthand,” said Congressman David Scott. “During economic downturns, Black families are likely to be hit first and worst with higher rates of foreclosure, food insecurity and wage losses – circumstances that often contribute to a cycle of poverty for millions. The untapped resources of our nation’s apprenticeship programs can aid Black workers to break into careers with the security to weather economic crises, but only if we work together to ensure these programs better reflect America. With this legislation, we can address the barrier Black workers face in employment and take a strong step toward building economic equity for underserved communities.”

The Jobs, On-the-Job ‘Earn While You Learn’ Training and Apprenticeships for Young African Americans Act of 2021 would:

  • Create a Diversity and Inclusion Administrator position within the Employment and Training Administration at DOL responsible for promoting and assisting greater African American participation in RAs.
  • Support the Recruitment, Employment, and Retention of African American and other nontraditional Black populations in programs under the national apprenticeship system in high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand industry sectors and occupations.
  • Target High-Earnings Occupations in construction, welding, electrical engineering, plumbing, information technology, energy, green jobs, advanced manufacturing, health care, and cybersecurity.
  • Update the RA Application process requiring new sponsors to include a plan to boost African American participation in their apprenticeship programs.
  • Establish a Competitive Grant Program for eligible RAs to create, increase, or expand African American participation in traditional and non-traditional apprenticeship industries.

Official text of the Jobs, On-the-Job ‘Earn While You Learn’ Training and Apprenticeships Act of 2021 is available here.

A fact sheet of the Jobs, On-the-Job ‘Earn While You Learn’ Training and Apprenticeships Act of 2021 is available here.

 

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.