NJMEP is 1 of 9 recognized nationally by DOL for development of top-level apprenticeship programs

The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program was one of nine organizations nationally that were recognized earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Labor as Standards Recognition Entities overseeing the development of high-quality Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs.

SREs are third-party industry and workforce leaders that will evaluate and recognize high-quality IRAPs consistent with the DOL’s standards. Upon recognition, SREs can immediately begin to work with employers and other entities to establish, recognize and monitor high-quality IRAPs that provide apprentices with industry-recognized credentials.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said IRAPs should be lauded for increasing apprenticeship accessibility in new or underrepresented industries.

“The quick growth in the number of SREs and recognized IRAPs demonstrates the demand for this industry-led, market-driven approach to apprenticeships and workforce development,” he said. “The Department of Labor will continue to work with private sector leaders, in addition to the public sector, to help American workers gain the skills they need for prosperous careers.”

John Kennedy, the CEO of NJMEP, said the recognition is appreciated and reflective of MEP’s commitment to apprenticeship training programs.

“This is an area that needs expanding in many areas, but especially in manufacturing & STEM,” he told ROI-NJ. “This is a very new step for us, and we are in the midst of working through the details at present.”

Kennedy praised members of MEP’s Pro-Action Network Team, led by Torsten Schimanski, Patti Moran and Christian Mdeway, as well as officials at the DOL for making this step possible.

With these additions to the initial cohort of SREs announced in September, the U.S. DOL now has 27 SREs representing a diverse array of organizations — including accreditation bodies, community colleges, employers, industry associations, state agencies and workforce development agencies — equipped to oversee IRAP development.

To date, the DOL has approved SREs to recognize IRAPs nationally or statewide in 20 industries, with many representing sectors where apprenticeship opportunities are not widespread. The SREs announced Wednesday will serve a diverse group of our nation’s workforce by recognizing high-quality IRAPs in industries such as finance and insurance, health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and professional, scientific and technical services.

Here are the nine organizations newly recognized as SREs:

  • New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program;
  • Arizona Insurance Institute;
  • Area Community Services Employment and Training Council — West Michigan Works!;
  • Center for Business Acceleration;
  • Commonwealth of Kentucky Department for Workforce Investment;
  • Custom Training Solutions, a division of Northwest State Community College;
  • Institute for American Apprenticeship at Vermont Healthcare & Information Technology Education Center;
  • National Urban League;
  • Network Partners (Network Packaging Group LLC).

John Pallasch, the DOL’s assistant secretary for employment and training, said these SREs offer American workers more options to obtain workplace-relevant training that results in an industry-recognized credential in new and growing industries.

“Apprenticeships are just one tool to help hardworking Americans earn a living, and with the exciting announcement of entities recognizing individual Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, the apprenticeship model is now more accessible to Americans of all backgrounds,” he said.