U.S. DOL Issues Revised Apprenticeship Regulations

On Oct. 29 2008 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final rule revising the federal regulations (29 CFR part 29) that implement the National Apprenticeship Act. The first overhaul of the regulations in 30 years substantially changes both how an apprentice can become a journeyworker and how the system is managed.

The final rule takes effect December 29 2008 but State Apprenticeship Agencies have up to an additional two years from that date to implement the changes.

Among key changes the new rule:

• Adds two methods - competency-based and a hybrid approach - to the traditional time-based method for an apprentice to obtain journeyworker status;

• Allows for the inclusion of technology-based and distance learning;

• Gives registration agencies the option to issue interim credentials;

• Establishes a 90-day timeframe for registration agencies to process sponsor requests for registering and modifying program;

• Provides for reciprocal approval for federal purposes of apprentices apprenticeship programs and standards that are registered in other states for all industries and occupations;

• Introduces provisional one-year approval for newly registered programs;

• Limits a registration agency to a State Apprenticeship Agency; and

• Includes a new section 29.6 on performance standards to be used to evaluate programs.

All programs currently in effect do not have to be revised as a result of this rule.
In discussing the new rule DOL personnel said there are several areas where it will be seeking additional policy guidance in the coming months including: performance standards electronic media provisional registration interim credentials and competency-based apprenticeship programs.

A short fact sheet full text of the new rule press release and other information on the final rule are available at: http://www.doleta.gov/oa/regulations.cfm. Additionally DOL has set up a specific email: regs.apprenticeship@dol.gov to answer questions related to the new rule. Questions and answers will be posted to the web page referenced above.