Skip to content

TECNA Comments on National Apprenticeship System Enhancements

TECNA Comments on National Apprenticeship System Enhancements


March 17, 2024

Brent Parton

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary

Employment and Training Administration

U.S. Department of Labor

200 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20210

Submitted electronically via

Re:  Docket No. ETA-2023-0004, National Apprenticeship System Enhancements – Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

Dear Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Patron:

The Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) represents more than 60 technology business-serving councils and serves as the collective voice for regional technology organizations.  Our members represent 22,000 small- to medium-sized technology companies across North America.  Many of our members’ companies are startups and are heavily dependent on uniquely-skilled, creative talent, both to survive in a rapidly changing environment and to drive that change in desired directions for company growth.

Access to a skilled pipeline of talent is a vital component of the ongoing ability of the United States to continue to innovate and create jobs.  TECNA’s members play a key role in helping to expand apprenticeships across the nation in tech-related fields through our partnerships with APPRENTI and Franklin Apprenticeships.  Currently, TECNA has 7 members that administer apprenticeship programs combining related instruction, on-the-job training and professional mentorship to ensure high-quality implementation in local communities across the country.  Our members leverage existing talent in Kansas, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin to provide work-based learning credentials for upward mobility and increased diversity in the tech workforce.    

We thank the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) for affording us an opportunity to comment on the national apprenticeship system enhancements and respectfully offer for your consideration the following comments:

National Program Standards for Apprenticeships

TECNA supports the proposed changes outlining criteria for the establishment, scope, reciprocity and alignment with National Occupational Standards for Apprenticeship (the “National Standards”).  TECNA also supports the provisions requiring state-level registration offices (SAAs) to recognize sponsored apprenticeships using the National Standards.  Mandating SAAs to reciprocally approve and register programs complying with the National Standards will foster system alignment where there are current gaps. 

As the apprenticeship landscape has evolved, labor market trends have dictated the increased demand for technology-based occupations.  Accordingly, many of our members’ apprenticeship programs focus on high-skill, in-demand jobs in non-traditional industry sectors (e.g., life sciences, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, fintech) that meet 21st century workforce needs.  Some of the programs have a multi-state design or fall under the patchwork of SAA standards that currently hinder the uptake process.  Many SAAs currently have onerous registration and documentation requirements that do not comport with the National Standards.  This is especially true for non-traditional technology sectors and, therefore, results in the exclusion of many in-demand industry sectors.   In other words, if these apprenticeship programs fell within the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA), the program would be successfully registered and funded.  However, because it falls under the SAA jurisdiction, the programs are being denied. Excluding non-traditional technology jobs based on a patchwork of unduly restrictive and duplicative state standards, will stymie the growth of high-quality registered apprenticeship programs, particularly in emerging occupations.

The proposed framework drives system alignment (with expedited approvals) between the National Standards and the state-level registration offices.  It is a welcome effort that will result in national apprenticeship expansions in emerging and non-traditional technology occupations.  However, TECNA urges ETA to modify the proposed framework even further to ensure that federal “pass-through” dollars that are administered by SAAs are explicitly listed under the reciprocity guidelines.  It is imperative that apprenticeship programs that adhere to the National Standards have access to the federal dollars administered by SAAs without being unduly burdened by excessive paperwork and approval processes that currently exist.  Furthermore, TECNA recommends the inclusion of a systematic appeals process directly to the Department of Labor to resolve complaints. Currently, there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure that state-level registration offices comply with the requirement to recognize the National Standards. The only recourse for program sponsors is litigation when an appeal through the SAA channels is denied.  It is imperative that sponsors have an opportunity to appeal directly to the OA when there are legitimate concerns as to whether an SAA is in compliance with its stated apprenticeship plan and comporting with federal mandates.   

We thank the ETA for affording us and other stakeholders the opportunity to comment.  Should you have any questions about these comments or any of the information contained herein, please contact me at 412-545-3493 or at

Respectfully Submitted,
Jennifer G. Young, CEO

Powered By GrowthZone