In an effort to address our nation’s workforce challenges, which have only grown worse during the pandemic, the House of Representatives has passed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020. The bill would invest more than $3.5 billion in apprenticeship programs over five years, creating nearly 1 million additional apprenticeship opportunities across many sectors and prioritizes funding for apprenticeships in high-need social services such as child care. Through Registered Apprenticeships, students and workers receive paid, on-the-job training, preparing them to enter the workforce with the skills they need to succeed.
Apprenticeships are an essential part of the early childhood education system in America, with high-quality early learning and care programs needing a skilled, trained workforce to create a nurturing and healthy environment for our youngest learners. In order to ensure more children and working families have access to these high-quality opportunities, we must prioritize programs that give child care providers pathways for career development and professional advancement to meet the growing demand.
Earlier this year, the bipartisan Early Educators Apprenticeship Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and in the House by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Congresswoman Susan Wild (D-PA). This bill would support and expand states’ efforts to establish ECE apprenticeships programs to address the growing need for qualified early educators, which is echoed in the National Apprenticeship Act.
In the midst of ongoing early learning workforce shortages and the pandemic, it can be difficult to fill existing vacancies with educators or care providers who have the necessary skills or training. Recognizing the need to invest in the nation’s early learning and care workforce, FFYF looks forward to continuing to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to find innovative solutions that strengthen and improve America’s child care system.