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1555 Highlands Drive
Suite 110
Lititz, PA 17543
Phone:  (717) 626-1776
FAX:  (717) 626-4234

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Harrisburg PA 17120-2097
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Part 2: Apprenticeship Training Programs in Pennsylvania
by State Rep. Steven Mentzer (R-Lititz)

In our last article, we briefly outlined the need to increase job training in Pennsylvania, specifically regarding my legislation to reform the Commonwealth’s apprenticeship program training ratios.

In Pennsylvania, we require apprenticeship programs to have a ratio of four “journeymen” or experienced workers for every apprentice who is learning the trade. My legislation would allow that ratio to be reduced to 1-to-1 for businesses, with the option of businesses to increase it higher if it was warranted in their specific program.

While the federal government does not set standard ratios it does allow states to adjust to adjust their ratio to meet the needs of their labor markets. The federal Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training assists states in administering their apprenticeship programs and provides guidance on apprenticeship ratios.

Currently 24 states allow for a 1-to-1 ratio. In Pennsylvania, the Apprenticeship and Training Council, which is part of the Department of Labor and Industry, determines this ratio.

This council has had a practice of keeping the ratio high, traditionally at four journeymen per apprentice, or a 3-to-1. This ratio stifles training and job creation. If you have a contractor who has a contract that only requires two people, you can only have a 1-to-1 ratio, as jobs require more workers, this is when the higher ratio comes into effect. If it is a four-man job, you need three journeymen before you can hire an apprentice. This illustrates how difficult it is to to train people for the trades and how this decision is holding back Pennsylvania’s economy.

While all jobs go before the council for a decision on what ratio is required, there is also a loophole. If there is a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and union labor is used on a particular job, the CBA can call for a smaller ratio.

However, contractors with non-union labor must adhere to the ratio decided by the state council. This creates two different standards for training apprentices, creating an uneven playing field for Pennsylvania businesses.

Next week, we will discuss why some are opposing my legislation and why I believe it is necessary to keep Pennsylvania’s economy competitive.

Representative Steven Mentzer
97th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Eric Reath
717.260.6187 /
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