Titus Hopes Apprenticeship Bill to Help Hotels and Casinos Can Pass Senate

Posted on: February 8, 2021, 09:05h. 

Last updated on: February 9, 2021, 08:10h.

For the second time in just more than two months, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to bolster apprenticeship programs across the country. And for the second time, the legislation includes funding for the tourism and hospitality industry.

Titus Apprenticeship Bill
US Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada) speaks on the House floor in 2019. Last week, Titus secured a provision to include the hospitality industry in an apprenticeship bill that passed the House. (Image: US Rep. Dina Titus/YouTube)

House Bill 447, dubbed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, passed on Friday by a 247-173 vote. It passed the chamber just 11 days after it was filed by US Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia).

The bill calls on the Department of Labor to invest more than $3.5 billion to create new opportunities for apprenticeship programs, as well as increasing access to them. Lawmakers expect the program to create almost 1 million apprenticeships over the next five years.

US Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada) successfully inserted a provision to include the hospitality industry in the program. That provision had broad industry support. That included Culinary Workers Local 226, the primary union representing casino workers in Las Vegas. It also received support from such industry trade groups as the US Travel Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The bill now goes to the Senate. The 2020 version of the bill died there last month after that chamber failed to act before the 116th Congress adjourned.

Titus noted in a statement, though, that the Senate features new leadership this year.

Now that the Senate is under new leadership, I am hopeful that (Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer (D-New York) will move quickly to advance this bill and create these high-paying career opportunities,” Titus said.

The Nevada lawmaker serves as both the cochair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus and the cochair of the Congressional Gaming Caucus.

Titus: Bill Offers “Pathways to the Middle Class”

Titus said the program will help give people a chance to work in the hospitality industry and receive paid, on-the-job training. Besides apprenticeship programs for working-age adults, HB 447 also includes provisions for youth programs and pre-apprenticeships.

“At a time when so many in Las Vegas are struggling, my proposal will offer new pathways to the middle class,” she said.

Data from the Labor Department indicates there nearly 6,000 active apprentices across all industry fields in Nevada in fiscal year 2019. Of the 5,963 participants, 2,660 were new to the program, and 563 completed it. Overall, the state featured 94 apprenticeship programs.

Supporters say the bill will provide $10.6 billion in benefits to US taxpayers, a net three-fold return on investment. That figure includes higher productivity, as well as reductions in the need for public assistance and unemployment.

Apprenticeships Can Turn Into Lucrative Careers

The statement from Titus mentioned a Labor Department statistic that 94 percent of the workers who complete a registered apprentice program find work upon completion. The release also noted an average annual wage for those jobs of $70,000 per year. However, US Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) said that only 43 percent of those who enter registered apprentice programs actually complete them. Foxx voted against the bill.

The salary figure considers all types of apprenticeship programs, including electricians, plumbers, and elevator installers and repair technicians. According to Study.com, people who install elevators for a living earned a median salary of $79,780 in 2018.

The wages for new hospitality workers will vary based on the position. It also depends on whether it’s considered a “tipped” job.

Based on a copy of a 2019 collective bargaining agreement between the Culinary Workers and Bartenders Union Local 165 and Bally’s Las Vegas, a newly hired banquet cook with no relevant previous experience earns $18.29 an hour. After a year, they would receive $20.58 an hour, and after two years, they would get $22.87 an hour.

An apprentice service bartender starts off at $13.11 an hour plus tips, which can be lucrative. After a year, their hourly wage becomes $14.75 plus tips, and by the second year, they earn $16.39 plus tips.