WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Ro Khanna (CA-17) introduced the bipartisan Student Apprenticeship Act, a bill that would close the gap between higher education and labor by modernizing workforce training and catalyzing the growth of registered apprenticeships nationwide. This bill is a companion to Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) Student Apprenticeship Act.

Specifically, the Student Apprenticeship Act would promote collaboration across the board between higher education institutions, employers and labor by creating a grant program that aligns institutions of higher education, employers, and workforce intermediaries to create apprenticeship opportunities for students. As a student and an apprentice, participants would work to earn college credit and an industry credential while their employers pay them. Meanwhile, employers would pay at least 25 percent of the student’s college tuition and fees, and student-apprentices would earn credits for their work that count towards their degree and their industry credential. 

The bill would also create competitive grants to drive apprenticeships through supporting the expansion of registered apprenticeships by providing institutions of higher education, employers, and workforce intermediaries with funds to offset the costs associated with developing and implementing student-apprenticeships. This would include developing curricula and standards, supporting on-the-job learning, mentoring, and additional supervision; purchasing updated equipment; and supporting services such as tutoring, transportation, child care, and housing subsidies.

And finally, the bill would update the federal work-study program to allow apprenticeship programs to qualify as work-study programs, so eligible students who demonstrate financial need earn additional funds to pay their tuition through work that aligns with their coursework and their intended career path.

“Apprenticeship programs grow our economy by fostering training programs that will prepare workers for in-demand careers. There has been a consistent increase in the number of jobs, but employers are struggling to find skilled workers,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “By promoting the collaboration between higher education and apprentice programs, this bill will help to prepare the next generation for good-paying jobs, while addressing our nation’s current shortage of trained workers.”

“To prepare our workers for the 21st-century economy, we must acknowledge that on-the-job training and higher education go hand in hand,” said Rep. Khanna. “Student apprenticeship programs are key to ensuring workers are trained for the high-paying, high-demand jobs that employers are having so much trouble filling. We must invest in our workforce if we want to maintain America’s global economic leadership.”

 “Student apprenticeships are a proven way to prepare Americans for jobs in the 21st-century economy, but there is a disconnect between higher education and a workforce seeking highly-skilled and trained candidates,” said Sen. Bennet. “Apprenticeships can bolster a student’s academic studies with training and skills development that better prepares them for their future career. We have an opportunity through the Student Apprenticeship Act to better connect education and workforce development, helping employers secure the skilled workforce they need while giving workers a pathway to the middle class and beyond.”

The Bipartisan Student Apprenticeship Act is supported by Advance CTE, American Association of Community Colleges, Arapahoe Community College, Association for Career and Technical Education, CareerWise Colorado, Center for Law and Social Policy, the Colorado Community College System, Harper College, Jobs for the Future, National Association of Workforce Boards, New America, Third Way, Small Business Majority, and Year Up.

Read the full text of the bill online here.