The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would both expand worker access to support opportunities, such as apprenticeships, and make it easier for states to administer the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) Program. This NPRM marks the first proposed regulatory update to the TAA Program in more than two decades.
The TAA Program offers a variety of benefits for workers affected by foreign trade, including skills training, job search and relocation allowances, and income support. Any member of a worker group certified by the Department as trade-affected is potentially eligible to receive TAA Program benefits and services through any one of the roughly 2400 local American Job Centers across the country.
- Expands the number of workers eligible to apply for job search and relocation allowances;
- Increases those allowances in line with the statute and expands training to include more flexibility for apprenticeships;
- Increases staffing flexibilities for states to more efficiently provide integrated services at the state and local level;
- Makes it easier for groups of workers to apply for benefits; and
- Offers assistance to additional categories of workers, including by helping workers in jobs threatened by foreign trade to receive training and support to transition to new employment.
“This proposal is decades in the making and offers clear guidelines and flexibility to states as they utilize the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Program,” Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration John Pallasch remarked. “Skills development is critical and encouraging more apprenticeships is a key piece of the proposed updates.”
Despite five major subsequent reauthorizations, regulations governing the TAA Program have not been substantially updated since 1994. As a result, cooperating state agencies have used a combination of outdated rules and patchworks of administrative guidance to operate the program. This NPRM will provide clarity and certainty to states administering the TAA Program by incorporating existing operating instructions issued via administrative guidance into the TAA Program regulations and aligning the TAA Program regulations with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
Individuals or organizations wishing to comment on the proposed rule must follow the instructions provided in the Federal Register Notice.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and protect the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.