As White House Focuses on Workforce Development, Scott’s Bipartisan LEAP Act Encourages Apprenticeships, Tackling Skills Gap

Washington – As the White House prepares to make new announcements on workforce development this week, U.S. Senator Tim Scott continues his years long work in this area. The Senator’s bipartisan LEAP Act incentivizes companies to expand their apprenticeship programs using a South Carolina-style model to help folks earn while they learn.

“I am excited to see the White House put workforce development and the skills gap at the forefront,” Senator Scott said. “Whether it be the SKILLS Act passed a couple of years ago, my bipartisan LEAP Act that I introduced in this Congress, or encouraging career and technical education, there are some concrete steps we can take to ensure the needs of employers better match the skills of our workforce. This is an exciting week, and I look forward to working with the White House and my colleagues in Congress to make these solutions a reality.”

Many employers explain the reason for their unfilled jobs as a lack of available trained workers. Apprenticeships are a proven way to help people develop in-demand skills and to meet the needs of employers, yet they compose just 0.2 percent of the nation’s workforce. By 2020, the United States is expected to experience a shortage of 3 million workers with associate degrees or higher and 5 million workers with technical certificates and credentials.

Key pieces of the LEAP Act include:

  • Offering a federal tax credit for hiring new apprentices that are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency.
  • Addressing the fact that the average age of apprentices is currently as high as 29 by offering a reduced tax credit of $1,000 for apprentices over 25. The tax credit for apprentices under 25 is $1,500.
  • Being fully paid for through an offset: cutting printing waste by barring the federal government from producing publications that are available online with an exception for seniors, Medicare recipients and in communities with limited internet access.

In 2016 in the U.S. there were approximately 505,000 active apprentices in registered apprenticeship programs. By contrast, in Germany nearly 50 percent of all young people go through apprenticeship programs.

Studies show that apprenticeships are a wise investment for both participants and the U.S. government: individuals who complete registered apprenticeship programs earn over $240,000 more over their careers than people who did not participate in such programs, and the tax return on every Federal Government dollar invested in registered apprenticeship programs is $27.