Andrew Cortés Selected to Lead National Apprenticeship Advisory Committee

Aug 5, 2016 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Education, Rhode Island

Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today cheered the announcement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez that Rhode Islander Andrew Cortés has been selected to lead the national Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, which advises the Secretary of Labor on the Registered Apprenticeship program.  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship program is a training system that combines technical instruction with on-the-job learning.

“With the knowledge, relationships, and real-world skills apprenticeships provide, they are invaluable experiences that can serve as ideal preparation for employment in a great variety of industries,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who helped include $100 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill to expand innovative, job-driven apprenticeship programs across the nation. “I’m pleased to see Andrew Cortés take on a leading role in these efforts and I know he will help the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship continue to help workers develop the necessary skills and experience to excel in a number of diverse and dynamic careers. He joins David Casey of CVS on the Committee, so Rhode Island has a real opportunity to impact policy here.”

“Apprenticeships can equip young people with the skills to succeed in good-paying careers,” said Whitehouse. “I’m proud Andrew Cortés will bring his considerable experience helping Rhode Islanders develop jobs skills to the national effort to promote apprenticeships.”

The advisory committee provides advice and recommendations on issues related to Registered Apprenticeship, including expanding apprenticeship into new industries and occupations, promoting greater public awareness of the benefits of Registered Apprenticeship, and aligning apprenticeship programs with other training and education efforts.

“Apprenticeships are a proven model to help individuals successfully transition from hands-on skills training programs into the workplace. Apprenticeships bridge the divide between classrooms and careers, in turn helping to close the skills gap, support a robust workforce, and foster economic growth,” said Langevin, co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus who successfully included an amendment into the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that encourages states to show how they would use Title I funds to provide apprenticeships for academic credit. “The Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship is a driving force for experiential education policy in our country, and it is incredibly exciting to see Rhode Island play a critical role in these efforts thanks to both committee member David Casey from CVS Health and especially to the leadership of Andrew Cortes of Building Futures.”

“I applaud Secretary Perez’s decision to name Andrew Cortés the new Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship,” said Cicilline. “I have had the good fortune to work with Andrew and Building Futures as both a Mayor and a Member of Congress, and I can think of no one better suited to lead our country’s development of a 21st Century workforce. With a team that includes David Casey from CVS, Andrew’s leadership will help put Rhode Islanders back to work and ensure our workers are trained to meet challenges of today’s economy.”

Cortés, who will serve as the Committee’s chair, is the Director of Building Futures, a Providence-based organization that helps prepare low-income residents between 18 and 35 years of age for rewarding careers in commercial construction through Registered Apprenticeships. David Casey of CVS Health in Woonsocket, RI also serves on the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship.

“Across the nation, more and more companies are discovering that the Registered Apprenticeship model works as an innovative and effective way to prepare workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Secretary Perez. “The department welcomes the committee’s new members and congratulates its incoming chairman. With fresh ideas and the leadership of our new chairperson, we look forward to the important contributions of the committee as we continue to expand and enhance the role of apprenticeships and open career pathways to good jobs and a brighter future.”

Authorized by the National Apprenticeship Act, the committee includes more than two dozen members. Members are leaders from throughout the national Registered Apprenticeship system, such as employers, labor management organizations, and the public. The committee also includes representatives of system partners such as the department’s Employment and Training Administration; the National Association of State and Territorial Apprenticeship Directors; the National Association of Government Labor Officials; and the U.S. departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, and Health and Human Services.

“I am excited and privileged to lead such a phenomenal group of experts, which includes employers, labor and the public, around the table that provide a variety of expertise with diverse perspectives,” said Cortés. “We are looking forward to providing meaningful contributions to the current movement, helping our nation to expand the use of the highly effective Registered Apprenticeship model.”

The advisory committee’s mission is to:

  • Provide recommendations on the development and implementation of policies, legislation, and regulations affecting the national Registered Apprenticeship system.
  • Offer strategies to expand apprenticeship in non-traditional industries.
  • Examine ways to partner with the public workforce system and educational institutions effectively.
  • Develop strategies to support greater diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship and create career pathways that lead to good jobs.
  • Improve program quality and oversight.

In May, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation joined Secretary Perez and Governor Gina Raimondo to tour an apprenticeship program that provides skills training in the plumbing, pipefitting, and steam fitting trades at the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 51.