Last week, we released a report that examined 15 years of the Michigan Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC)  U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship training, and it was bad: “ABC programs exhibit the highest rate of cancellation and the lowest rate of completion”.

We must have struck a nerve with them, because someone at ABC, that must fancy themselves as a communications word-smith-spin-master professional, published an open response on the ABC Southeast Michigan Facebook page. The response desperately tries to excuse the report by blaming labor unions and ABC’s own apprentices for their programs’ failures.

It is truly an amazing piece of writing, but the problem is they got a lot wrong. So we decided to help them by correcting their post. Read it here, but then keep reading to learn the facts:

Now all joking aside, just about everything ABC said in its defense is factually inaccurate or they omit important facts. Let’s step through ABC excuses one at a time.

  1. CLAIM: ABC says their graduation rates are low because their apprentices often fail to “document and submit to federal bureaucrats that they’ve hit 8,000 hours” of required On the Job Training (OJT) hours.

    • TRUTH: Apprentices do not submit their own On the Job Training hours to the DOL; that is the training programs responsibility. There is not even a mechanism for apprentices to submit their own hours. It is shocking and frankly confusing why ABC wouldn’t know this and tried to throw their own apprentices under the bus for the program’s failures.

  2. CLAIM: ABC says labor union members are employees of their labor unions so it is much easier for unions to track and submit OJT hours to the DOL.

    • TRUTH: Labor union members are not employees of their unions and unions are not employers. This isn’t debatable it is fact. Labor unions work with their signatory contractors to develop methods to track and submit apprentice OTJ hours. If ABC was serious about training, then they would work with their “members”, who are contractors, to track OTJ hours. It is pretty simple.

  3. CLAIM: ABC claims that “graduation rates have nothing to do with measuring the competency of a student” and that their low graduation rate does not tell the whole story of their apprentices success.

    • TRUTH: ABC is correct that there are other ways to measure the performance of a training program such as growth in apprentice wages. Our study examined this topic beginning on page 15. The DOL requires training programs to record an entry wage when an apprentice registers into a program and an exit wage whether they graduate or cancel out of training prior to completion.

      ABC reported that their average apprentice earned $11.15 an hour when they registered into training. Their apprentices who cancel out of training reported an average exit wage of $12.34 an hour. So ABC apprentices who do not graduate from training report earning $1.19 more an hour than when they started training.

      These are the same apprentices that ABC claims are not considered graduates only because they failed to “submit to federal bureaucrats that they’ve hit 8,000 hours” of On the Job Training. If that is true then why do they not earn a wage that is higher and in line with someone who works in the construction trades for a career?

      Even on ABC Southeast Michigan’s own website, they claim that electrical apprentice graduates earn on average $27.49 an hour. Why would these apprentices wages be so much lower then what ABC claims they should be if the only reason they did not graduate is because of a big bad bureaucracy requiring On the Job Training hours? It would seem that ABC actually failed these students and their excuse is just another ABC lie.

We could go on and on, but we won’t. Training matters and it is something that doesn’t just happen in classrooms. We hope this post was able to help ABC learn a little bit about DOL Registered Apprenticeship programs.

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