Bills of Note: Apprenticeships

On Jan. 10, the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development held a public hearing on three bills that promote apprenticeships in Wisconsin. AB 745, authored by Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Barron) and Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point), would allow high school seniors to participate in apprenticeship programs. AB 734, authored by Rep. Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) and Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), would create a tax deduction for apprenticeship tuition expenses.  AB 124, authored by Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) and Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), would create in the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) a marketing program for employment and training opportunities targeted to students who have dropped out of University of Wisconsin System colleges.

First, each group of authors testified on their individual bills. On AB 745, Quinn said allowing high school students to participate in apprenticeships during their senior year will give high school students more options and experience before graduation. On AB 734, Stafsholt testified that apprenticeship tax deductions would put apprenticeships on the same level as other tax-deductible educational opportunities. On AB 124, Krug and LeMahieu said marketing employment and training opportunities will make students aware of career options with good pay and benefits outside of the four-year college track. Altogether, the authors presented the committee with testimony making the case that promoting apprenticeships by passing these bills will give young Wisconsinites more employment options and will help address the state’s workforce shortage.

After the authors, the committee heard public testimony on all three bills. Many Wisconsin businesses and members of Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin told committee members about the importance of apprenticeships in developing a skilled workforce. Speakers said the bills will help inform young people about opportunities in construction and other industries and will inform the public about the value of apprenticeships to our workforce.

DWD also testified for information only, answering legislators’ questions on the bills’ fiscal impacts. No one testified against any of the three bills.

The Assembly committee held an executive session on Jan. 16 and recommended passage of all three bills.