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On March 6, 2024, President Biden issued an Executive Order designed to increase participation in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship Program (“the Program”). The purpose of the Program is to connect job seekers looking to learn new skills with employers looking for qualified workers. 

The Executive Order on Scaling and Expanding the Use of Registered Apprenticeships in Industries and the Federal Government and Promoting Labor-Management Forums  (“the Order”) implements a recommendation made by the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, chaired by Vice President Harris. The Order instructs federal agencies to prioritize grant applicants and contract bidders that have hired former participants in the Program when making grant and contract bidding decisions.

The Biden administration believes increased participation in the Program will lead to more “good jobs,” and the stated hope is the Order will act as a catalyst to increase participation in the Program because employers will seek out more apprentices so to increase their odds in successful contract bidding and grant applications. Some members of the business community, however, have expressed skepticism about the Order in the face of the Biden Administration’s optimism. Their concerns include the onerous nature of setting up new apprenticeships as well as the possible result of undermining federal infrastructure investments by reducing competition through elimination of companies that do not participate in the Program.

Employers who serve as contractors for the federal government and who participate in federal government grant programs should monitor the effects of the Order. What that will look like will become more apparent in the coming months, as a task force comprised of leaders of several federal agencies, including the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of Labor, is due to issue a report by September 2, 2024 with recommendations for federal agencies on how to implement the Order. 

Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Labor & Employment team will continue to monitor developments surrounding this Executive Order.