Reps. Rodney Davis, Dan Lipinski Introduce Apprenticeship Legislation to Tackle Skills Gap, Address Youth Unemployment
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) today introduced bipartisan legislation, the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act, to reinvigorate America’s apprenticeship programs in our skilled industries.
“Right now more than 10 million Americans remain unemployed while around 4 million jobs sit vacant due to the lack of adequately skilled workers,” said Davis. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will take an essential step towards combating these significant problems by providing an incentive driven approach to get more companies to promote and offer apprenticeship programs and get more Americans trained and into the workforce.”
“This problem is not going to go away on its own,” said Lipinski. “In an effort to better prepare our nation’s workforce for today and tomorrow, and to ensure that Americans fill these positions, it’s imperative that Congress approve the LEAP Act. It’s a win-win for both employers and employees, and the bill would be fully paid for through an offset.”
The need for qualified candidates for essential jobs in industries such as construction, electric, welding, and pipe fitting, is significant and growing – a Georgetown study projects that by 2018 there will be shortages of between 3 million and 5 million skilled workers.
At the same time, 16 percent of 16-24 year olds in the U.S. today are unemployed. The numbers are far worse among minority youth and for those without college degrees. Apprenticeships can help fill this gap.
In FY 2013, more than 164,000 individuals nationwide, 2,979 in Illinois, entered the apprenticeship system and there are over 375,000 apprentices, 13,643 in Illinois, currently obtaining the skills they need to succeed while earning the wages they need to build financial security.
Current numbers of programs and individuals participating in them are hardly scratching the surface of what is needed, so the LEAP Act will reinvigorate America’s apprenticeship programs in our skilled industries.
Key pieces of the LEAP Act include:
• Offering a federal tax credit for hiring new apprentices that are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency.
• Addressing the fact that the average age of apprentices is currently as high as 29 by offering a tax credit of $1,500 for apprentices under 25. The tax credit for apprentices over 25 is $1,000.
• Being fully paid for through an offset: cutting printing waste by barring the federal government from producing publications that are available online with an exception for seniors, Medicare recipients and in communities with limited internet access.
Identical legislation was introduced in the Senate in by U.S. Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).