Biden Admin Provides $100 Million for Apprenticeships to Fill Teaching Workforce Gaps

Biden Admin Provides $100 Million for Apprenticeships to Fill Teaching Workforce Gaps
Teachers present a lesson at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York on Sept. 27, 2021. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

The Biden administration this week announced over $100 million in grants to address school staff shortages and high turnover rates by lifting pay and funding teacher apprenticeships from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

As the 2022–2023 school year begins, schools in the United States are struggling to fill vacancies for teachers and other school staff, according to the Biden administration.

The U.S. Department of Education cited uncompetitive teacher pay for high teacher turnover rates and a “weak pipeline” coming into the profession.

The workforce shortage, which the department said was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, is also slowing down how fast students can recover academically from the impacts of disrupted learning since March 2020.

Additionally, the Biden administration noted in a fact sheet that quality programs are needed to make it easier and cheaper for teachers from diverse backgrounds to get into the profession.

“Students need qualified teachers who are prepared to teach them, and who reflect the diversity of our students. Teachers need affordable pathways into the profession,” the fact sheet states.

To that end, the Department of Labor (DOL) has earmarked $100 million in apprenticeship grants to provide support for states and other partners to begin teaching apprenticeship programs that will allow people, including teacher assistants, to “earn while they learn.”

The teacher apprenticeship program is aimed at allowing these individuals a “more affordable” pathway to becoming a teacher and offers a chance to “gain robust experience in the classroom” before they lead their own, according to the fact sheet.

Teacher Apprenticeships

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said Wednesday that he and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona have encouraged governors and district leaders to fund the apprenticeships from the $130 billion in the ARP earmarked for K-12 schools.
“Too many schools struggle to fill vacancies for qualified teachers and other critical school professionals like bus drivers, nurses, and mental health professionals. Addressing this issue is critical to our communities and future,” Walsh said on Twitter.

Walsh said he wants the funds to go towards paying teachers a “liveable and competitive wage” and to adding programs that “prepare and support” teachers for their jobs.

“Students need qualified teachers. Teachers need affordable pathways into the profession,” Walsh said.

Walsh said that unions and state organizations are expanding registered teacher apprenticeship programs, teaching residencies, and “Grow Your Own” programs, in a bid to achieve the goal.

Talent recruitment companies and job platforms like Indeed, Handshake, and Zip Recruiter are also getting involved. Indeed will launch virtual hiring fairs and Zip Recruiter will allow job postings for free. Handshake will host a nationwide virtual event to help undergraduate students learn about pathways into teaching.

“The $130 billion in President [Joe] Biden’s American Rescue Plan directed to the nation’s K-12 schools have allowed school districts across the country to invest in teacher pipeline programs, increase compensation for teachers, and hire more professionals across the education workforce,” the fact sheet states.

The Biden administration says that funding from the ARP has been used to hire social workers, school counselors, and school nurses.

Caden Pearson is a reporter covering U.S. and world news.
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