Washington plans to expand learning requirements, requiring state training before you can get a job »Publications» Washington Policy Center
For many business industries in Washington, state-run apprenticeship programs are the gateway to licensing and employment opportunities. Now the Washington State Council of Apprenticeship (WSATC), part of Washington Labor and Industries (L&I), seeks to expand apprenticeship programs to other industrial sectors, creating a new requirement for certification and unionization of segments of the industry where it doesn there was none before.
This expansion is problematic because it will increase employer costs, decrease employee wages and limit job availability.
For an example of an existing certification program that has limited the number of workers available, look in the electrical and power industry. The electrical certification program to progress from a trainee to a journeyman electrician, and ultimately to a master electrician, requires several hours of on-the-job training and a state-sponsored training program overseen by the WSATC. While this creates a standard approach to training and standards across the industry, it also limits potential employment opportunities for electricians. Partly because of the pandemic, partly because of retirement and partly because only two organizations, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Construction Industry Training Council (CITC), offer certification programs for new hires, Washington now faces a shortage of electricians in industry. To make matters worse, Senate Bill 6126, which was enacted in 2018, only allows state-approved programs to offer certification, creating a virtual monopoly for CITC and IBEW on the certification process.
The WSATC, because of the limited certification possibilities, has become the body that regulates the number of electrician jobs in the state.
The WSATC is now seeking legislative authority to extend its charter to create apprenticeship programs in several new industry sectors. The proposal lists the sectors under study as:
Building trades, manufacturing and engineering, healthcare and behavioral health, education and early learning, information and communications technology (ICT), biotechnology and life sciences, creative economy, hospitality and personal services.
These are employment sectors that currently do not require state certification for employment and have operated without government oversight for decades, without any issues or restrictions.
More troubling is the fact that only two organizations would be able to offer certification for sectors. CITC, which took almost 20 years to achieve certification status, and IBEW which will only certify workers for unionized stores.
In order for an organization to be qualified to offer certifications, the WSATC must approve the certification and since the WSATC is primarily composed of union members with a vested interest in keeping the certification process under union control, the qualification process is arduous and difficult. very difficult to achieve. It took CITC over two decades and a huge cost to get certified. The high bar on entry discourages many organizations from seeking certification status.
The aim of the IBEW is to extend the influence of unions into new industrial sectors which are currently not unionized and to limit employment opportunities to union members only. In addition, the certification of new business sectors will not be free. Each employer will have to pay for the training of its employees. The training courses will be provided by the certification bodies, CITC and IBEW.
With tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in Washington state, expanding certification requirements to information and communications technology (ICT) will create significant barriers to entry for businesses. new developers, operations engineers and technical program managers.
Likewise, the hospitality sector, whose labor pool has been hit particularly hard by state lockdown mandates in the event of a pandemic, will be further handicapped if an apprenticeship program for workers was implemented.
Expansion of learning requirements into new industrial sectors is not required and should be explicitly excluded from any legislative authority that L&I and the WSATC have. The expansion is a brazen tax and takeover of authority by labor organizations to control the private business sector AND TO INCLUDE AND EXCLUDE WORKERS SEEKING JOBS. It is an attempt to control job creation and where employees can work.