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Political Advocacy

Tell DOL To Withdraw Its Restrictive New Apprenticeship Rule

Click here to send an automated message to the DOL urging them to withdraw new apprenticeship rule.

On Jan. 17, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor published a proposed rule that would make significant and controversial revisions to the National Apprenticeship System, which will affect ABC members, chapters, apprentices and other industry stakeholders participating in government-registered apprenticeship programs.

While ABC supports government-registered apprenticeship programs and offers more than 450 such education programs across the country as part of its all-of-the-above approach to meet the workforce needs of the construction industry, the proposed rule implements dozens of burdensome and costly new recordkeeping requirements and reduces flexibility for GRAP sponsors and employers.

ABC is concerned this proposed rule will only exacerbate the construction industry’s workforce shortage, with over half a million new workers needed in 2024 alone, by discouraging ABC contractors, ABC chapter GRAP providers and other stakeholders from continued participation and future expansion of the GRAP system.

In short, the proposal will discourage participation by construction industry employers and GRAP providers and likely reduce the number of apprentices enrolled and graduating from GRAPs. Of note, DOL data suggests that, in FY2023, construction industry GRAPs had roughly 250,000 enrolled apprentices and graduated 45,000. Simply put, the current GRAP system is already unappealing to many construction industry stakeholders and is not attracting enough new apprentices or graduating enough skilled apprentices to meet industry workforce needs. This proposal will make the GRAP system even worse.


Specifically, the rule proposes expansive new recordkeeping for employers and sponsors regarding employment decisions, apprenticeship agreements, records of apprentice performance and progress, wages and benefits and more. It also introduces a new mandate and related paperwork burdens requiring employers to verify that all journeyworkers involved in upskilling and supervising apprentices are qualified to do so. The rule provides little clarity on what would qualify as sufficient evidence to meet this requirement. Regardless of how this requirement is implemented, it will represent an onerous and costly new burden on employers that are required to verify undefined qualifications of the many journeyworkers frequently involved in on-the-job training of apprentices.

The proposal’s imposition of a new endpoint assessment requirement represents an unnecessarily prescriptive and burdensome change to existing GRAPs, which are already free to implement such assessments if sponsors and employers determine they are needed. The DOL should remove this requirement to prevent increasing administrative/recordkeeping costs, preserve flexibility and avoid a new impediment to apprentice recruitment/retention in GRAPs.

The rule has a concerning new obligation for GRAP providers to request information from employers regarding past labor law violations. The provision imposes new civil and criminal liability on employers and provides little clarity regarding the responsibility of sponsors to verify employer disclosures. The DOL should remove this overreaching requirement, and at a minimum must provide additional clarity to sponsors.

The proposal significantly reduces flexibility for sponsors and employers by eliminating competency-based and hybrid GRAPs, instead mandating rigid, multiyear, time-based standards. This change would shut out new sponsors and employers interested in these approaches, and may result in the deregistration of existing GRAPs utilizing these legitimate and tested models if sponsors and employers determine transitioning to a time-based model is not feasible.

Finally, at a time when the construction industry is constantly evolving to accommodate new technologies and innovations, the proposed rule instead makes the process of establishing new occupations as suitable for GRAPs more difficult through the new “suitability” test. I urge the DOL to lower paperwork requirements for suitability applications, shorten the approval timeline and enforce decision deadlines. The proposal’s new emphasis on preventing “splintering” is unnecessary, and the DOL should instead let industry determine whether new GRAPs are needed to meet the needs of the market.


As currently written, the proposed rule is a step backward for the GRAP system and will exacerbate the construction industry’s existing workforce development challenges. Tell the DOL to withdraw this proposed rule immediately and reconsider aspects of the rule that will increase costs and reduce GRAP participation. To guarantee access to high-quality, well-compensated careers in construction for as many Americans as possible, the DOL must instead focus on streamlining and modernizing GRAP regulations to ensure as many sponsors, employers and apprentices participate as possible. ABC National is urging ABC members to respond to its grassroots alert opposing this DOL proposal by March 18. Use the ABC Action App to connect with DOL and make your voice heard.