Torres Passes First Piece of Legislation

Feb 05, 2021

Washington, DC – Tonight, an amendment introduced by Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) was adopted in the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which passed the House this afternoon and will now head to the Senate. This amendment ensures that grants under the National Apprenticeship Act are awarded to encourage employer participation in apprenticeship programs that target individuals with English language barriers. 

The National Apprenticeship Act was first signed into law in 1937 during the Great Depression. In addition to creating pathways to the middle class and beyond, the reauthorization would help our nation recover from the deepest economic decline since that time. The inclusion of Congressman Torres’ amendment ensures that these benefits are more accessible in the Bronx, where more than 25 percent of youth are English language learners:

“During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bronx saw an unemployment rate as high as 25%. Apprenticeship programs prepare job seekers for careers in fields that allow them to enter the middle-class and in occupations where technical skills are needed. As we begin the process of rebuilding our communities from the pandemic’s devastation, we must always center the needs of our most vulnerable constituents who are traditionally left out of opportunities and may not speak English as a first language,” said Congressman Torres.

According to the Department of Labor, 94 percent of people who complete RAs are employed upon completion, earning an average starting wage of above $70,000 annuallyYet, according to the most recent data, only 0.3 percent of the overall workforce in America have completed an apprenticeship.

Congressman Torres has supported apprenticeship programs throughout his career in elected office. During his time in the City Council, Torres sought to build up city partnerships that help everyday New Yorkers get jobs training and provide a real pathway to the middle class. In 2016, Torres announced a first-of-its-kind program that set aside funding to create a civil service apprenticeship program with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

[Amendment Text (PDF)]

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