Skip to content

ABC Urges Biden Administration To Withdraw Its Illegal, Ineffective and Costly Apprenticeship Proposed Rule

WASHINGTON, — Associated Builders and Contractors submitted comments on March 18 on the U.S. Department of Labor’s controversial proposed rule overhauling regulations related to government-registered apprenticeship programs, or GRAPs. In more than 40 pages of comments, ABC urged the DOL to withdraw the illegal and misguided provisions of the proposal that will unnecessarily increase costs and discourage GRAP participation by employers, apprentices and apprenticeship, career and technical education program providers.

“ABC recognizes and fully supports government-registered apprenticeship programs as a key component of the construction industry’s all-of-the-above solution to upskilling the over half a million new workers needed in 2024 alone, and would welcome efforts to modernize and expand this system,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Unfortunately, as our comments outline, this illegal, unnecessarily costly and burdensome Biden administration proposal will instead restrict GRAP system growth and exacerbate the industry’s labor shortage.

“In addition, the Biden DOL’s proposed rule fails to fully address ongoing challenges with the GRAP system, including efforts by unions and bad government actors to suppress new GRAP approvals and restrict taxpayer-funded contracts and grants to businesses and GRAPs affiliated with certain unions,” said Brubeck. “Instead, the proposal reduces flexibility by replacing competency-based GRAPs with time-based GRAPs, eliminates state government’s ability to approve apprenticeship programs for new occupations needed to keep up with the modern economy and incorporates dozens of expensive new recordkeeping and administrative requirements. Overall, this proposal will cost the regulated community more than $1.3 billion over the next 10 years, according to the DOL’s own flawed and stunningly low-ball regulatory cost analysis.

“As demonstrated by ABC’s recent survey, feedback from GRAP stakeholders on the proposal has been overwhelmingly negative, with 94% of respondents stating that the proposed rule will increase the costs of participating in or sponsoring a GRAP and 90% saying they would be less likely to start their own GRAP as a result of the DOL’s proposal,” said Brubeck.

“Finally, this proposal comes at a time when ABC’s analysis of government data already indicates that GRAPs are struggling to meet workforce needs, with just 250,000 apprentice participants and 45,000 apprentice graduates in FY 2023,” said Brubeck. "The construction industry and critical infrastructure projects across the nation cannot afford to further reduce these numbers due to the proposed rule’s onerous new requirements.

“ABC urges the DOL to withdraw the proposal and replace its many problematic provisions with policies that will encourage competition and increase access to high-quality, well-paying careers in construction,” said Brubeck.

ABC champions government-registered apprenticeships as part of a diverse, all-of-the-above solution to workforce development. ABC’s chapters are educating craft, safety and management professionals using innovative and flexible learning models like just-in-time task training, competency-based progression and work-based learning, in addition to more than 450 federal and state GRAPs in more than 20 different occupations across America, in order to develop a safe, skilled and productive workforce.

ABC members invested an estimated $1.5 billion in construction industry workforce development to upskill 1.3 million course attendees in 2022, including hundreds of GRAPs administered independently by ABC member companies.

More information on the proposed rule is available at