Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs and Workforce Development

Once out of work personnel in gray polos excited to start at their Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s newly launched Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP) is designed to help people get back to work. And the timing of the launch could not have been better.

Job Loss Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the United States into a jobs crisis. Record-setting unemployment has tens of millions of workers facing layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours. A report by McKinsey suggests that up to a third of the U.S. workforce is vulnerable to reduced income, furloughs, or layoffs because of the crisis. Millions of jobs could be lost permanently. This, in turn, could affect consumer spending and dampen economic growth.

Efforts like the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program could help people get back to work, driving a faster and more robust economic recovery.

Providing Knowledge and Skills with IRAPs

Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs are high-quality programs that provide individuals with opportunities to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and progressively advancing skills. These programs include three important components: paid work, educational/training, and industry-recognized credentials (certificate or certification).

Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs provide an innovative model that combines the benefits of traditional internships with industry-driven approaches aligned to business needs. They play an important role in linking apprenticeships to industry-recognized credentials based on competence criteria. They also provide tools for business to develop and launch programs for immediate and future workforce needs.

Standards Recognized Entities (SREs)

To assure quality, the U.S. Department of Labor has approved entities such as ANAB as Standards Recognized Entities (SRE). SREs evaluate and recognize IRAPs consistent with the Department’s standards.

ANAB-IRAP has put together an expert panel consisting of national credentialing experts to develop scheme requirements to evaluate the competence of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs. Scheme-development follows a process to safeguard the integrity of the system that is driven by the needs of the industry and markets. ANAB’s process includes ongoing updates of IRAP program requirements to maintain the relevancy of requirements in a fast-changing environment.

The process used for developing Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program scheme requirements is based on applicable national and international standards. Many government agencies rely on this process to the benefit of the public, government, industry, and other stakeholders.

Assessments Based on National, International Standards

ANAB accredits assessment-based certificate programs based on ANSI/ASTM E2659 and certification programs based on ISO/IEC 17024. Since 2003, ANAB has accredited over 400 certificate and certification programs covering different industrial sectors and occupations. ANAB will build on its extensive expertise and experience in accrediting certification and certificate programs to offer a quality recognition process to Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs.

ANAB has a competent pool of assessors who will conduct the assessment for the program. Assessors evaluate the competence and integrity of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs against the published criteria. ANAB is committed to being a value-added, competent, and cost-effective SRE. Assessment are conducted with the highest integrity and in a timely manner.

McKinsey’s analysis found that lockdowns in the United States disproportionally affect low-income workers, who don’t have the financial cushion to absorb a shock of this magnitude. The newly launched Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program could play an important role in workforce development. The goal is to help people find well-paid internships that provide on-the-job training and opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials.

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