The Employment & Training Administration's (ETA) Office of Apprenticeship oversees the nation's federal apprenticeship strategy; a growing, industry-driven pipeline where employers develop and nurture their future workforce, and job-seekers obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a nationally-recognized credentials. This spring, the Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) launched a high-powered digital tool to open new doors for the American workforce.
This new portal will provide individuals with more opportunities to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and increasingly advanced skills through Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). IRAPs are high-quality apprenticeship programs, created by a Standards Recognition Entity (SRE), like trade or industry groups, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, unions and joint labor-management organizations. Approved SREs sponsor IRAPs that offer America's workforce hands-on learning and industry credentials while establishing a standard of high-quality paid apprenticeship opportunities that expands beyond typical offerings.
DOL's OCIO developed and launched the IRAP SRE Application Portal – the first new digital Apprenticeship offering in 80 years – to help expand job opportunities in industries where apprenticeship is not widespread, such as telecommunications, health care, and cybersecurity. The IRAP SRE Application Portal makes it easier for prospective SREs to navigate DOL's application process.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia praised the launch, noting the immediate impact many Americans will feel:
"Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs and the Standards Recognition Entity that recognize them will provide new opportunities for Americans to earn a living while learning the skills needed in a changing job market."
DOL's Chief Information Officer, Gundeep Ahluwalia, also acknowledged the backbone of IT in this historic program:
"OCIO's developers built this portal in record time – a testament to the talents and efforts of our solutions architects and digital teams. To date, over 11,000 website page visits from interested prospective applicants has been handled, and I am thrilled that our IT platform helps generate job opportunities for everyday Americans."
OCIO developed and launched the IRAP SRE portal on May 11th, 2020 originating from the Presidential Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeships in America. DOL intends to announce the first wave of approved organizations in September 2020.
Previously, OCIO helped ETA drive the Office of Apprenticeship's mission with the build out of the Apprenticeship Finder tool. It helps connect prospective workers with high-quality apprenticeship opportunities, nationwide, through the use of artificial intelligence.
The IRAP SRE portal advances the development of high-quality apprenticeship opportunities in sectors where apprenticeships are not widespread, and helps DOL address America's skills gap. For more information about the IRAP program, visit Apprenticeship.gov.
OCIO staff collaborate to modernize IT solutions and advance the Department of Labor's mission to support American citizens, wage earners, job seekers, and retirees. To track OCIO's progress, please consider following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.