Senators Scott and Booker Team Up to Tackle Skills Gap and Address Youth Unemployment

Washington-U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC)andCory Booker (D-NJ)today introduced the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act, S. 574, which provides a tax credit to employers to help increase the number of registered apprenticeships in the United States. This will put more people to work and help fill the 4 million job vacancies across the United States.

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.

At the same time, 12.2 percent of 16-24 year olds in the U.S. are unemployed. The numbers are far worse among youth of color and for those without college degrees. Apprenticeships can help fill this gap.

“Providing increased opportunities for America’s workforce to sharpen their skills and ensure our competitiveness in the global economy is essential,” Senator Scott said. “The LEAP Act will encourage students and those changing career paths to earn while they learn, while also providing employers the ability to create and enhance apprenticeship programs. The South Carolina program the LEAP Act is modeled after is a nationally recognized example of a strong public-private partnership that’s working for students and industry, and we have seen South Carolina’s manufacturing sector flourish in part due to the hardworking South Carolinians taking part in the program. I am pleased to work with Senator Booker on this important legislation as we work to support American families and strengthen our economy.”

“Apprenticeships are a proven, cost-effective way to connect more workers, especially younger workers, with on-the-job skills businesses need to compete in today’s knowledge-based economy,” Senator Booker said. I’m proud to join Senator Scott to introduce legislation that incentivizes employers to make critical investments in workforce development while tackling our unacceptably high youth unemployment rate.”

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 tax credit of $1,500 for apprentices under 25. The tax credit for apprentices over 25 is $1,000.
  • 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.

The U.S had just 358,000 active, registered apprenticeships in 2012. By contrast, that’s 7 percent of what England offered when adjusted for population, and 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.

A factsheet on the LEAP Act is availableat .