USDOL Announces $95 million Apprenticeship Investment

Latest Opportunity Emphasizes Value of Apprenticeships for Youth
Blog Post
A photo of a youth apprentice discussing a piece of equipment with a mentor
Feb. 26, 2024

The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) recently announced the availability of approximately $95,000,000 in grant funds as part of Round 2 of the Apprenticeship Building America grants program (ABA2). The Department plans to award between 12 and 25 grants and expects awards to range from $1 million up to $8 million. ABA2 will award funds across three grant categories:

  1. Ensuring Equitable Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) Pathways and Partnerships Through Pre-apprenticeship Leading to RAP Enrollment
  2. Creation of Education System-aligned Pre- apprenticeship Programs and RAPs
  3. Registered Apprenticeship Hubs

The eligible applicants and required partners vary by grant category, but include a wide range of stakeholders such as cities, counties, public postsecondary institutions, workforce boards, tribal governments, nonprofits, unions, intermediary organizations, and consortia. Lead entities funded under the original Apprenticeship Building America grant program are not eligible to apply for ABA2 funding.

Youth apprenticeship leaders will be excited to see that the announcement places a strong emphasis on youth, noting that “evidence shows youth-focused RAPs are a key strategy for building skills that are valuable in the labor market and serve as a pathway between high school and work.”

Category 2 is likely to be of particular interest to many PAYA youth apprenticeship partners given its emphasis on alignment with education systems. Under Category 2, applicants have the option to “create and expand” 1) pre-apprenticeship to registered apprenticeship pathways; and/or 2) registered apprenticeship pathways. However, both types of programs must serve learners through coordination and direct ties with the education system:

  • Pre-apprenticeship-to-RAP programs must offer work experience, have an industry-based focus, allow for career exploration, and lead to RAP enrollment.
  • Registered Apprenticeship Programs must leverage Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, integrated education and training, post-secondary, and/or degree components for related instruction and have a documented partnership with at least one RAP sponsor and education system partner.

Of note, the announcement calls out that the Department is particularly interested in programs that include CTE as part of related instruction as well as programs that provide college credit leading to a degree. In addition, it specifies that the education partnerships launched or expanded via Category 2 investments are intended to “lay the foundation for expanded system capacity,” suggesting that these grants could help to build new infrastructure to align with the Department’s recent CTE Apprenticeships proposal.

The announcement clarifies that grant dollars can be used to serve both high school students and opportunity youth, including youth who are employed or unemployed, justice-involved, from underrepresented populations, or have barriers to employment (e.g., foster youth, parenting youth, housing insecure youth).

More generally, the opportunity prioritizes programs focused on in-demand sectors and occupations that align with the Biden Administration’s Investing in America Agenda, including: IT/cybersecurity, K-12 teacher occupations (see New America’s recent blog post on Key Funding Sources for Educator Registered Apprenticeship Programs for additional insights), the care economy (“nursing, early care, mental health, and more”), clean energy, hospitality, public sector, and/or occupations in critical supply chain sectors (logistics, warehouse, transportation, and manufacturing).

Applicants will want to pay particular attention to the descriptions of “Cross-Cutting Principles” described within the announcement and carefully review both the overarching and category-specific required activities. The announcement also emphasizes the importance of providing supportive services as a strategy to advance equity and ensure the success of apprentices.

Finally, applicants may want to coordinate with state apprenticeship officials to align their proposals to youth-focused goals or priorities states may be advancing in their own applications for the next round of State Apprenticeship Expansion Formula grants. Check out New America's companion blog post for more information about potential opportunities to advance youth apprenticeship through the SEA grants program.

To view the full announcement and learn how to apply, visit the Grants Notice (FOA-ETA-24-04) on Applications are due 04/15/2024 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.