Senators celebrate the value of apprenticeship programs

by Jillian Luchner

Senators Scott (R-SC) and Booker (D-NJ) re-introduced the “Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act” to the 115th Congress on February 15, 2017. The act provides tax credits to employers of up to $1,500 for each eligible apprentice they hire under the program.

Both Scott and Booker have professed deep interests in engaging youth. At an event held on the day of the bill’s release, Restoring the American Dream, hosted by Opportunity Nation, Scott and Booker spoke to the need to connect youth with opportunities.

“Too often, especially with young people, we tend to look down to the lowest level of expectation,” Scott said. Booker shared, “It’s not the wealth of our wealthiest that makes our nation great. It’s how we provide pathways for every single child….My father was born poor, segregated environment, single mom…(but the) people who came into his life gave him a little bit of love, a little bit of support, a little bit of a hand up.” Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) also spoke at the event, saying she felt a responsibility for helping people to “realize where the opportunities are” and “plug-in”.

These efforts show impressive results. The organization Year Up participated in the event panel to discuss its one year post high school program model that pairs a half year of technical and professional skill building with a half year internship. Research show 85% of Year Up participants find full time employment and at an average starting wage of $18 an hour.

Connecting students to opportunities to practice professional skills and gain work experience is a practice familiar to afterschool programs across the country. Training and experience is valuable across age categories. The people, businesses, programs, governments, and systems that recognize the value of these youth and connect them to opportunities and skills continue to see great returns- economic, social, relational - over and over again.



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