“In recent years, both political parties have championed the apprenticeship model. The Obama administration set aside a record $175 million for the federal grant program for apprenticeships. And President Trump signed an executive order to double government funds for apprenticeship programs, followed only a year later by another executive order to establish apprenticeship programs with U.S. companies, affecting some 3.8 million workers.” (Forbes.com)
Now, that we have the Biden Administration leading the country, what can we expect for apprenticeships, and more specifically, for technology apprenticeships? Let’s consider…
The Biden Administration and Technology
- There is no permanent chairperson leading the FCC.
Biden chose Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for this position on a temporary basis, but without a permanent replacement to the Republican chair, the FCC is deadlocked with two Democrats and two Republicans. (cnet.com)
Why does this matter?
Net neutrality, the issue of hate speech spread via social media, and internet services in rural and low-income areas are hot-button issues that are unlikely to be solved or pushed to the forefront without a permanent FFC chair.
On the flip side, Biden appointed Dr. Eric Lander, a geneticist, former leader of the Human Genome Project, and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as the Office of Science and Technology director. And, Biden made this position into a cabinet position.
Our take on this research is that Biden is focused on the science and technology of COVID first and foremost. He clearly values the opinion of the leading voices in the industry, but the long-term issues and those voices that are speaking out, both for and against technology giants, are not his leading concern as he embarks on his presidency.
Now, How Does The Biden Administration Feel About Apprenticeships?
In February 2021, Biden announced a switch-up to the former administration’s plans for apprenticeships.
The Trump Administration created the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) in March 2020. These programs, existing alongside the DOL-regulated system, drew praise from Republicans and employer-groups for allowing employers more flexibility. On the flip side, Democrats and some employee-centric groups worried that the lack of oversight would lead to unfair work practices and unfair wages. (SHRM.org)
Biden has announced the IRAPs program will no longer accept applications, and the DOL-regulated systems will be bolstered. “The bill authorizes nearly $4 billion in new spending over the next five years on registered apprenticeships managed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the states.” (SHRM.org)
According to the White House official statement: “Registered apprenticeships are especially important as we recover from the pandemic, allowing workers who have lost their jobs or young people who are entering a weak job market to train for the jobs of the future while earning a decent income.” (Whitehouse.gov)
Overall, what we’ve learned is that the Biden Administration believes science and technology should play a major role in our government. That being said, with COVID still lingering, the new President has more immediate issues on his desk than the concerns of the technology industry. One of those immediate issues is getting people back to work, including a complete commitment to the endeavors of a regulated apprenticeship-system.