OKLAHOMA CITY – A bipartisan-backed bill to expand employment opportunities for Oklahomans has passed the House Appropriation and Budget Committee with a vote of 27 to 1.
House Bill 3378 -- authored by Rep. Meloyde Blancett (D-Tulsa), Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) and House A&B Chair Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) -- would offer employers a $1,000 tax credit per registered apprenticeship position. The plan allows each employer up to 10 apprenticeship credits per year.
“Our economy is strongest when everyone has a skill that can earn a good living - with or without a college degree,” said Dollens. “In 2018, Oklahoma had 99 apprenticeship programs and 1,516 active apprentices across the state. I believe we can grow that number to 300 programs with 2,300 active apprentices by 2022. It’s with this goal in mind that I authored HB3378 which allows Oklahoma business owners to claim an apprenticeship credit for expenses related to apprenticeship training programs.”
In order to qualify for the apprenticeship credit, an apprentice position must be registered with the US Department of Labor and meet the quality standards outlined through the federal government. Each industry has its own standards, which are regulated by the US Department of Labor.
“Over the next ten years, Oklahoma’s economy is projected to grow by 135,000 jobs and more than 70 percent of jobs will require some kind of education or training beyond high school,” Blancett said. “Expanding apprenticeships across the state will help to bridge the skills gap and fill jobs in diverse industries such as information technology, healthcare, energy, aerospace, construction, advanced manufacturing, hospitality, financial services, and more.”
The legislation received a boost in support when Wallace signed on as a coauthor.
“With previous decades of pushing four-year college degrees, combined with the aging out of licensed contractors in electrical, plumbing and mechanical trades, we’ve left a gap in our skilled trades,” Wallace said. “Without new recruitment of apprentices, journeymen and contractors, that gap will continue to grow. This bill gives employers the incentives they need to attract and train these future workers, which ultimately results in more and better-paying jobs for the Oklahoma economy.”
House Bill 3378 is now available to be heard on the House Floor.