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Governor Walker Helps More Wisconsinites Get to Work

Mar 28, 2018 by AFP

Governor signs AFP backed legislation to open up apprenticeships in the trades

MADISON, WI – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin is praising Governor Scott Walker for signing Assembly Bill 508 (AB 508), which removes government imposed barriers on apprenticeships.  With the enactment of the bill, employers can more easily create apprenticeship opportunities for workers and Wisconsinites will find it easier to obtain work and build careers in the trades. The bill signing occurred just days after the Department of Workforce Development announced that Wisconsin had reached all-time record-low unemployment of 2.9% in February.

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin State Director Eric Bott made the following statement:

“Once again Governor Walker is leading the nation in breaking down barriers to opportunities. Signing this bill into law will help employers fill desperately needed apprenticeships in the trades and help workers obtain fulfilling careers to build up and empower Wisconsin families. Our activists are grateful to the Governor for his support and to Senator Kapenga and Representative Hutton for championing this bill in the legislature.”


Wisconsin is experiencing a significant workforce shortage in the skilled trades that is only worsening as baby boomers retire and Wisconsin’s unemployment rate drops to all-time lows.  Nearly three out of four contractors nationwide report difficulty finding workers to fill vacant positions.

Simultaneously, would-be tradesmen have found it difficult to enter apprenticeships in certain trades because of a convoluted regulatory framework mandating that a certain number of journey workers be employed for each apprentice hired.

For instance, if a Wisconsin employer wanted to hire 1 painter apprentice, they would need 1 skilled worker to oversee them.  However, if they wanted to bring on 4 painters, they would need 12 skilled workers to oversee them.

If an employer wanted to hire a laborer apprentice, they would have needed 2 skilled workers on hand; but, if they hired 10 apprentices, they would have been required to have 22 workers on hand and then have 5 additional skilled workers for every apprentice hired from that point forward.

The apprentice-to-journeyman ratio for bricklayers is 1:1.

For roofers it is 2:3, 3:5, 4:7, and 5:9.

For Glaziers it’s 3:9.

For HVAC it’s 5:9.

And, for Heavy Equipment its 5:21.

Overtime, this system tends to favor unions and large construction corporations who become a chokepoint for entry into the trades, disadvantaging would-be workers on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Governor Walker’s action today sets a single, statewide apprentice-to-journeyman ratio at 1:1 for all trades and gives the state flexibility to set a higher ratio in some cases.  Additionally, it eliminates antiquated apprenticeship lengths for carpentry and plumbing.

AFPWI activists launched a grassroots campaign in 2017 to advance AB 508.