In March, Klobuchar and Kaine urged the Biden administration to increase efforts to strengthen women’s participation in apprenticeships and help close the wage gap

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) issued the following statements after the Department of Labor’s announcement of $3.4 million in funding grants to boost women’s participation in registered apprenticeship programs. 

“Apprenticeships are key to ensuring workers can gain the valuable skills and training they need, but far too many women still lack access to these critical opportunities,” said Klobuchar. “These grant programs will help position more women for success in the workforce and take an important step towards closing the gender wage gap.” 

“Women have been disproportionately affected by job losses during the pandemic, exacerbating existing gender disparities in the labor market,” said Kaine. “We must make sure that our economic recovery is prioritizing women’s workforce participation. I’m excited to see the Department of Labor is announcing more federal funding to boost women’s participation in registered apprenticeship programs that can set them and their families up for economic success.”

On Equal Pay Day in March, Klobuchar and Kaine urged the Biden administration to take action to increase women’s participation in registered apprenticeship programs to strengthen the workforce and close the gender pay gap.

The Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant program supports community-based organizations in their efforts to recruit, train and retain more women in Registered Apprenticeships and high-growth sectors where women have been historically underrepresented, including infrastructure, cybersecurity and health care. Applications for the grant program can be found HERE.

Currently, women account for only 13 percent of registered apprentices, even though they comprise half of the labor workforce. Increasing women’s participation in apprenticeship programs would help close the wage gap by providing entry for women to higher-paying careers that offer better wages and benefits, helping to level the earnings playing field. 

Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to close the gender pay gap, increase participation in registered apprenticeship programs, and provide more workforce opportunities for women. In June, Klobuchar introduced with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) the bipartisan Apprenticeships to College Act, which was included in the House-passed America COMPETES Act this year, to allow workers to earn college credit for completed apprenticeships. Last March, she introduced the bicameral Marshall Plan for Moms Resolution to provide support for mothers as they reenter the workforce. Last February, Klobuchar led 19 colleagues in urging the Biden administration to prioritize efforts to help women return to the workforce. 

In March 2021, she partnered with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to reintroduce the bipartisan American Apprenticeship Act, which would help create and expand pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs. In February 2021, she and Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) reintroduced the Skills Investment Act and Skills Renewal Act to help Americans save for and access skills training, apprenticeships, and professional development programs. 

As co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus and member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Kaine has long been pushing for reforms to strengthen participation in apprenticeships. He introduced with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, which was included in the House-passed America COMPETES Act this year, to allow students to use Pell Grants for high-quality short-term job training programs, including registered apprenticeship programs. Kaine also introduced with Senator Portman the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act to ensure workers, especially women, have access to the skills training needed for in-demand infrastructure jobs. In October, Kaine and Klobuchar also led a letter calling on President Biden and Congressional leaders to include job training investments in a reconciliation package.