Giving Compass' Take:

• Zach Boren writes about the necessity for new United States policy to sustain apprenticeships through the pandemic and its ensuing economic fallout.

• With so many factions of the population experiencing crisis, it's difficult but necessary to offer everyone support. What can you do today to push for policy to sustain apprenticeships? 

• Learn more about why today is the day to increase your giving.

Governments around the world are developing a range of policy interventions to support workers affected by the pandemic. US policymakers should take note of what is working abroad to provide workers—especially apprentices—with a comprehensive safety net during this economic crisis and public health emergency.

Here in the United States, our apprenticeship system is still in its infancy, and our policy efforts to protect apprentices are lagging. Despite significant growth—registered apprenticeships are up 56 percent since 2013, thanks to new investments and national focus—American apprentices make up only about 0.2 percent of workers nationally, compared with Germany’s 3.7 percent and the United Kingdom’s 2.7 percent.

How do we ensure apprentices can rejoin the workforce after the pandemic? How do we protect the investment we’ve made in our nascent apprenticeship system?

To protect apprentices and continue the expansion of Registered Apprenticeship Programs, policymakers should consider the following strategies:

1. Increased guidance and communication from the federal government

The US Department of Labor should provide more guidance to the national apprenticeship system to ensure sponsors and employers understand what flexibilities and funding are available to them and their apprentices through the FFCRA and CARES Act.

2. Short-time compensation for apprentices

An enhanced short-time compensation (STC) program for apprentices could ensure fewer become unemployed. Under STC, apprentices (and employees) whose hours have been reduced would receive partial unemployment benefits, rather than being laid off or furloughed.

3. Paid remote learning for apprentices

Policy changes and investments, like paid online learning for the next few months, could prevent apprentices from being laid off or requiring substantial unemployment insurance  benefits to cover them during a work stoppage.

Read the full article about policy to sustain apprenticeships through COVID-19 by Zach Boren at Urban Institute.