Montana Administrative Register Notice 24-21-301 No. 7   04/16/2015    
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In the matter of the amendment of ARM 24.21.415 and 24.21.1003, pertaining to apprenticeship training ratios






TO: All Concerned Persons


          1. On December 11, 2014, the Department of Labor and Industry (department) published MAR Notice No. 24-21-301 regarding a public hearing on the proposed amendment of the above-stated rules at page 2920 of the 2014 Montana Administrative Register, Issue No. 23.


          2. On January 5, 2015, at 10:00 a.m., the department held a public hearing in the auditorium of the DPHHS Building, 111 North Sanders, Helena, Montana, to consider the proposed amendment of the above-stated rules. Various members of the public attended and commented on the proposed amendments. In addition, members of the public submitted written comments.


          3. The department has thoroughly considered the comments and testimony received. A summary of the comments received and the department's responses are as follows:


Comment 1: Several commenters expressed support for the proposed rule amendments exactly as the amendments were drafted and proposed. Those commenters that expressed a reason for support generally stated that employers were having trouble finding enough apprentices to compensate for the aging of the workforce, and that the changes were needed to grow the business of small electrical contractors.


Response 1: The department acknowledges the comments.


Comment 2: A large number of commenters stated support for the proposed amendment of ARM 24.21.1003(2), but only if the rule was amended with the addition of text that stated "However, at no time shall the [s]ponsor's total apprentice to journeyman ratio exceed one apprentice (1) to one (1) journeyman." The reason generally given in support of the additional language requested was "to protect public safety," in the context of electrical work. All of the comments making the request were offered specifically in the context of electrical work and apprentice electricians.


Response 2: The department notes that none of the commenters provided any evidence in support of the claims that proposed amendments to ARM 24.21.1003 would lessen public safety with respect to electrical work performed by apprentices.


The department also notes as a technical matter, the provisions of ARM 24.21.1003 do not in and of themselves allow for more than one apprentice to be supervised by one journeyman worker. The department recognizes, however, that the interaction of the proposed amendments to ARM 24.21.415 and ARM 24.21.1003 have led to a concern that too many apprentices could be working for a given employer.


All apprenticeship standards require a progression of an apprentice towards completion of the apprenticeship. Those standards require that an apprentice not only progress via the number of hours employed in the field, but also in required "related instruction" (classroom training). The department may not grant a ratio waiver under ARM 24.21.415 unless the employer demonstrates that its apprentices are successfully progressing towards completion of the apprenticeship program. The department will not allow ratio waivers for employers whose apprentices have "stalled out" and failed to complete the apprenticeship requirements within a reasonable amount of time. In addition, the department notes that an apprenticeship sponsor that does not have an adequate completion rate for its apprentices risks decertification of its status as an apprenticeship sponsor. The department intends to closely monitor sponsors with respect to completion rates, to take appropriate action to decertify those employers whose completion rates indicate abuse of apprentices and apprenticeship programs, and to enforce the standards each sponsor has agreed to.   Accordingly, the department concludes that the proposed amendments will not lead to employers having too many apprentices who "stall out" and fail to complete the apprenticeship program.


In order to address the concerns of the commenters, the department is proposing additional amendments to ARM 24.21.1003. The full text of the additional amendments are contained in MAR Notice No. 24-21-302, which is found on page 363 of this issue of the Montana Administrative Register.


          4. The department has amended ARM 24.21.415 and 24.21.1003 as proposed.




Mark Cadwallader                       Pam Bucy, Commissioner

Alternate Rule Reviewer              DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY


Certified to the Secretary of State April 6, 2015


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