News Releases

By 2018, the U.S. will face a shortage of millions of workers with recognized postsecondary credentials
The bipartisan EARNS Act would intensify the development of pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs across the country


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking member of the Senate labor committee, introduced the Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s workforce development system through registered apprenticeship programs. The EARNS Act would support pre-apprenticeship programs and new or expanding registered apprenticeship programs that provide national, portable credentials, and help secure academic credit for on-the-job learning portions of an apprenticeship.


“To ensure that our workforce can truly lead in the 21st century global economy, we need our students and workers to be prepared to compete for high-skill, high-wage jobs in industries across the economy,” Senator Murray said. “By strengthening and expanding registered apprenticeship programs, we can help workers get the training and experience they’ll need, while they are also earning a paycheck, and provide a ladder of opportunity to reach a stable middle class life. I look forward to continuing working with Senator Hatch and others to expand registered apprenticeships to serve more students, workers, and businesses across the country.”


“Registered Apprenticeships have been are an essential component in building Washington State’s skilled trades and manufacturing workforce,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “These unique partnerships bring employers and workers together to build customized industry training programs for high demand jobs which are critical for our state’s growth and prosperity. The EARNS Act would expand awareness and access to apprenticeship opportunities, for both workers looking for viable careers, and for employers in need of a highly trained, skilled workforce. I commend Senator Murray for her efforts supporting registered apprenticeship opportunities, which will help to grow our state’s workforce in key sectors.”


“We wholeheartedly support Sen. Murray’s EARNS Act proposal,” said Marty Brown, executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. “The training of highly skilled workers through apprenticeship is vital to Washington’s economy and offers a pathway to exciting in-demand careers. Apprenticeship training allows students to step into those jobs right away, while gaining knowledge and skills on the job and in college at the same time. Employers benefit from training exactly the type of talented people they need. Apprentices can benefit by earning both academic credit toward a postsecondary credential and a living wage while they are still in training.”


“Senator Murray’s EARNS Act is vitally important to the future of our economy. The modern economy demands highly skilled workers, and apprenticeships supplies them.  The best companies in the world are facing skill shortages, not only in university-level skills, but also in skilled technical jobs,” said Dale Peineike, Commissioner of the WA State Employment Security Department. “More of our young people need to know about the outstanding career opportunities available through apprenticeship.  Senator Murray’s EARNS Act helps our employers compete, so they can create great jobs for our people.”


David Rolf, President of SEIU 775 said, “The expansion of Apprenticeship programs for high-demand professions such as home care creates opportunities not just for workers, but by improving health and healthcare cost outcomes. We strongly support the expansion of apprenticeship programs through the EARNS Act and applaud Sen. Murray’s leadership on this issue.”


Michael Schutzler, CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association said, “We are very pleased to support this legislation which helps more Tech Employers hire apprentices. The Tech Industry needs highly skilled workers and our apprenticeship program will help the untapped potential found all around the country.”


The EARNS Act builds on a proven model supported by clear evidence of success. A 2012 evaluation of registered apprenticeship programs by Mathematica Policy Research found that the tax return on every public dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs was $27. It further found that individuals who completed registered apprenticeship programs earned over $240,000 more over their careers than individuals not participating in such programs.


This bill is also sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and is co-sponsored by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Al Franken (D-MN).


FACT SHEET: Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills (EARNS) Act:


Effective Apprenticeships Rebuild National Skills Act


Sponsored by Senators Murray and Hatch

Original Co-sponsors:  Senators Scott, Kaine, Collins and Franken



A highly skilled workforce is necessary to compete in the global economy, support economic growth, and maintain the standard of living of the United States. US registered apprenticeships is an employer led training model that prepares workers for the skill requirements of in-demand occupations while providing the workers with recognized, national credentials and wages while in training.


A 2012 evaluation of registered apprenticeship programs by Mathematica Policy Research found that—

  • the tax return on every public dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs was $27:1, and
  • individuals who completed registered apprenticeship programs earned over $240,000 more over their careers than individuals not participating in such programs.

A 21st century workforce requires that registered apprenticeships are thriving in all economic sectors, including service, information, trades, finance, manufacturing and healthcare.


The EARNS Act:

  • codifies the Office of Apprenticeship at the U.S. Department of Labor, allowing for Congressional oversight and budgetary regular authority;
  • supports and promotes the development of pre-apprenticeship programs by investing in training with a required link to a registered apprenticeship placement;
  • promotes greater diversity in registered apprenticeship programs;
  • aligns registered apprenticeship programs with other federal education and training programs and with state and local workforce development boards;
  • establishes a National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships, sets its membership, and tasks the Committee to make recommendations on streamlining the registration process and maintain standards;
  • requires an evaluation of the return on federal investment in improving skills and employability of participants and alignment with employer workforce needs;
  • establishes a voluntary Registered Apprenticeship College Collaborative to create a mechanism for conferring academic credit for employer led, on-the-job training and experiential learning and to expand registered apprenticeships as a post-secondary education option; and
  • expands the number employers offering registered apprenticeships by making available funds to defray the upfront costs for companies that create their first apprenticeship program or add companies to existing registered apprenticeships.


The EARNS Act will:

  • increase the number of highly skilled workers in in-demand industry sectors and occupations;
  • increase the attainment of recognized postsecondary credentials by participants;
  • increase awareness among students, parents, workers, and employers about the value of the registered apprenticeship program model as an effective earn-and-learn model;
  • support the expansion of registered apprenticeship programs with employers, joint labor management partnerships, and other program sponsors;
  • support the development and expansion of pre-apprenticeship programs that prepare workers for success in an employer led registered apprenticeship program; and
  • support a closer alignment between registered apprenticeship programs, the workforce development system, and postsecondary education.