State to include apprenticeships in education goals

The Oregon Legislature has amended the state’s 40-40-20 Education Plan to include state-registered apprenticeships.

The plan sets a goal to ensure all Oregonians have a high school diploma or equivalent by 2025, and that the vast majority have some form of degree or certificate beyond a high school education. The goal is that 40 percent will have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 40 percent will earn an associate’s degree or post-secondary credential, and 20 percent will have a high school diploma or equivalent.

The legislative and rule-making intent was to include non-college education programs in the “middle 40” of the goal, but it wasn’t clear what programs were included.

At the Oregon AFL-CIO convention in Bend last September, delegates passed a resolution directing the state labor federation to pursue legislation that would ensure that apprenticeship training was part of the “middle 40.”

It just so happened that then-state Rep. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) was a delegate at the convention. Dembrow is a community college instructor and member of the American Federation of Teachers.

Dembrow, now a state senator, talked up the resolution to his colleagues. State Rep. Chris Gorcek (D-Troutdale),  a community college instructor representing a district with many apprenticeship training centers in it, took interest in the idea and approached the Oregon AFL-CIO about drafting a bill.

House Bill 4058 made clear that apprenticeship programs registered with the State Apprenticeship and Training Council were to be included as a post-secondary credential.

The bill passed in the House 59-0, and passed in the Senate 29-0.

“By explicitly including registered apprenticeship programs in our education goals, we are ensuring that no matter how students learn, they know there is a path for them after high school into a good career — be it through college or an apprenticeship program,” said Tom Chamberlain, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

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