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An Apprenticeable Occupation is a skilled occupation which is recognized by the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Apprenticeship or the WSATC and meets the criteria established in WAC 296-05-305.
The criteria for Apprenticeable Occupations contained in the "Apprenticeship Rules" effective January 17, 2002, revised in July 25, 2011, (key notes shown to the right on this page) does not support any provision or allowance for any NEW apprenticeship programs.
Existing trades which require apprentices are those that are included in the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupation Codes or SOC codes.
This means that if your company wanted to become a registered training agent and create their own apprenticeship program, these laws and rules will only apply to EXISTING trades that currently require apprentices that are specifically identified by current SOC codes.
Essentially the law prevents the adoption or application of any apprenticeship programs for occupations that are not already identified by an SOC code. Additionally, trades with current SOC codes that have existing apprenticeship programs have no language within the law that supports adaptation for individual company provisions that may be required to create their own program.
Therefore, if the law is not written to include language that supports the creation of new apprenticeship programs in addition to those established for trades with an SOC code, then the laws essentially block opportunities for any new apprenticeship programs.
Blocking any new apprenticeship programs which would allow non-union companies to comply with current prevailing wage laws successfully prevents competition with the existing union based companies without really saying so.
While Labor and Industries encourages open shop participation in the apprenticeship program, existing laws provide walls that are impenetrable without making new laws. Also, since the current apprenticeship programs are utilized entirely by union erectors, the approval board consists mostly of union members. This is like the fox watching the henhouse.
It is no wonder then, that out of the 60 steel erection companies in the State of Washington, there are currently no open shop apprenticeship programs operating within the state.
The Steel Erector
The story behind the "Apprenticeable Occupation"
An Apprenticeable occupation is one which is specified by industry and which must:
(a) Involve skills that are customarily learned in a practical way through a structured, systematic program of on-the-job supervised learning.
(b) Be clearly identified and commonly recognized throughout an industry
(c) Involve the progressive attainment of manual, mechanical or technical skills and knowledge which, in accordance with the industry standard for the occupation, would require the completion of at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning to attain
(d) Require related instruction to supplement on-the-job learning
The Criteria for Apprenticeable Occupations
The apprenticeship program allows for the union steel erector to have one apprentice for every journeyman working on prevailing wage jobs.
The open shop steel erector that does not utilize an apprenticeship program, must pay all workers journeyman scale.
This system allows the union erector an automatic 20 to 25% competitive edge for quoting public work projects.
Open shop companies, disadvantaged by the laws do not bother bidding public works projects which require compliance with prevailing wage laws because of this union based preference.
The National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, section 1 (39 U.S.C.50) authorizes and directs the Secretary of Labor "to formulate and promote the furtherance of labor standards necessary to safeguard the welfare of apprentices, to extend the application of such standards by encouraging the inclusion thereof in contracts of apprenticeship, to bring together employers and labor for the formulation of programs of apprenticeship, to cooperate with State agencies engaged in the formulation and promotion of standard of apprenticeship, and to cooperate with the Office of Education under the Department of Health, Education and Welfare ***". Section 2 of the Act authorizes the Secretary of Labor to "Publish information relating to existing and proposed labor standards of apprenticeship" and to "appoint national advisory committees***" (29 U.S.C. 50a)"