U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (WA) Introduces Bill to Expand Apprenticeships

In August, Washington State’s 6th Congressional District Rep. Derek Kilmer touted SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership’s “earn while you learn” apprenticeship program for home care workers. He highlighted the growing demands of our aging population and connected the Training Partnership’s commitment to expand home care aide apprentices to more than 3,000 annually to meet the need.

So, it was welcome news when Washington State Senator Patty Murray introduced a bill that would dramatically increase federal funding for apprenticeships. It would also press local colleges to give credit to students for on-the-job training.

Senator Murray said, “It allows people to earn while they learn. There’s bipartisan business and labor support for this because it is a proven way of helping people learn a skill, whether it’s in health care of whether it’s for our Boeing machinists.”

This bill acknowledges how critical the need is for the United States to promote apprenticeships. Currently, according to Jill BIden at the International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training in Switzerland, “The United States now has 375,000 registered apprentices but needs to add 2.5 million more next year to compete with Britain and 7 million more to compete with Germany.”

Fortunately, in April, President Obama launched a nationwide competition for $100 million in “American Apprenticeship Grants.” Senator Murray’s effort to increase funding for apprentices continues the momentum from the report released by Vice President Joe BIden, “Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training & American Opportunity,” which emphasized the crucial role training providers have in connecting working people to opportunity.

What is most valuable in the conversation to expand funding and opportunity for apprenticeships are the stories. The News-Tribune spoke with Danielle Williams, a 2013 Apprenticeship program graduate. She tells the story of how, as a single mother of three, the opportunity to receive more training and earning a 25-cents-an-hour raise, was more about providing better care to the people she serves.

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