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Construction Apprenticeship FAQ

Find answers to many commonly asked questions related to WSDOT's apprentice utilization requirement. If the information provided here differs from information in your contract, the contract is the accurate source.

If you have additional questions, please contact the WSDOT Project Office you are working with. If you believe the question should be added to this page, please email WSDOT Apprenticeship.

Frequently Asked Apprenticeship Questions

Why does WSDOT require 15% apprentice utilization?

Is Apprentice Utilization different from Special Training Provisions?

What is a State-Approved Apprenticeship Program and how can I find one?

I have a training program of my own but it is not a State-Approved Program. Does this meet the requirement?

I’m trying to get a program approved by the council but it is not approved yet, what can I do to meet the requirement until the program gets approved?

Who does the requirement apply to: primes, subs or both?

What labor hours get reported and are subject to 15% apprentice utilization?

Do I include truck drivers on the plan and monthly reports?

What about plant workers or hours for offsite fabrication?

Are owner/operators included?

What is the purpose of the Apprentice Utilization Plan and what is WSDOT looking for in the plan I turn in?

What if my plan shows that I can’t meet the apprentice utilization requirement?

What should the Good Faith Effort I turn in look like ?

How will the Good Faith Effort be evaluated?

What situations meet the intent of the contract in terms of the Good Faith Effort?

What situation/s DO NOT meet the intent of the contract in terms of the Good Faith Effort?

What if the work is too dangerous or critical or technical for apprentices?

I’m an out-of-state contractor and I’m having trouble finding apprenticeship programs. What should I do?

Can I meet the requirement if I'm a non-union contractor?

Can I count my apprentices after they graduate?

What happens when it is time for my apprentice's classroom training?

What if apprentices quit or take a different job?

What happens if changes to the contract alter my apprentice plans?

What are the consequences of not meeting the apprentice utilization requirement?

Why does WSDOT require 15% apprentice utilization on projects estimated to cost more than $2 million?  

During the 2005 Legislative Session, a law was passed requiring public works contractors to perform 15% of labor hours on projects with apprentices in State-Approved apprenticeship programs. The intent of the requirement is ensure that there are always qualified workers to construct quality projects in Washington State. 

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Is Apprentice Utilization different from Special Training Provisions? 

Yes, Apprentice Utilization and Special Training Provisions are two sperate requirements. Apprenticeship applies to any WSDOT contract estimated to cost $2 million or more. Training applies to only those Federally funded projects that have been reviewed and determined are able to support training. A contract can contain both requirements.

If you have a contract with both requirements you will need to meet both and submit all required reporting for each requirement. The same apprentice can be used to meet both requirements if they are a female or minority and are enrolled in a State-Approved Apprenticeship Program. 

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What is a State-Approved Apprenticeship Program and how can I find one? 

A State-Approved Apprenticeship Program is a program that has been approved by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council. There is a listing of State-Approved Training programs on the website of the Department of Labor & Industries at http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Apprenticeship/Programs/default.asp 

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I have a training program of my own but it is not a State-Approved Program. Can I use this toward meeting the requirement or get my program approved by the council? 

You cannot use a program that is not State-Approved toward meeting the requirement.

You can attempt to get your existing program approved by the council or start a new program however this is a time-consuming process and you will need to find another way to meet the requirement prior to approval of your program. 

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I’m trying to get a program approved by the council but it is not approved yet, what can I do to meet the requirement until the program gets approved? 

You’ll need to utilize an existing State-Approved program or other contractors on the job will need to make up for the shortfall in utilization caused by you not using a State-Approved program. 

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Who does the requirement apply to? Does it apply to the prime contractor, the subcontractors or both?  

The contract requires that 15% of the total labor hours on the project be performed by apprentices. The prime contractor can choose how this will be achieved. WSDOT does not require that each contractor achieve 15% apprentice utilization, however in order to meet the requirement, the prime contractor should contract with companies that plan to perform apprentice hours to assist them in meeting the requirement. Otherwise the prime contractor may not be able to meet the requirement. The requirement is that 15% of the total labor hours performed by all contractors on the job be performed by apprentices. 

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What labor hours get reported and are subject to 15% apprentice utilization?  

Labor hours are the total hours performed by all workers (apprentice or journeyman) receiving an hourly wage who are directly employed on the project site including hours performed by workers employed by the prime contractor and all subcontractors. Labor hours do not include hours performed by foreman, superintendents, owners and workers who are not subject to prevailing wage requirements. Be sure to take this into consideration when filling out your Monthly Report (DOT Form 422-110 EF). 

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Do I include truck drivers on the plan and monthly reports?

Truck drivers should only be reported if they spend the majority of their shift (4 or more hours) on the project site. You do not track how many hours a driver was on or off site, simply report all hours for drivers that spend most of their time on site and exclude all hours for truck drivers that spend most of their time off site or on their way to the job. 

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What about plant workers or hours for offsite fabrication? 

You will only report hours for employees working on the project site. 

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Are owner/operators included? 

The owner/operator would not be included. Any employees they have receiving an hourly wage would be included.

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What is the purpose of the Apprentice Utilization Plan and what is WSDOT looking for in the plan I turn in?

The plan (DOT Form 422-115 EF) is a tool for both you and the WSDOT Project Office to determine if you will meet the apprentice utilization requirement and how and when you intend to. The plan should be based on the total hours and apprentice hours that you and your subcontractors expect to achieve. The plan should be compared periodically to your monthly statements to determine if you are on track to meet the requirement. It should be updated as changes occur that would affect your ability to meet the requirement.

WSDOT is looking for a plan that is realistic and can be used by the agency to determine if you are on track to meeting the requirement.

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My plan shows that I can’t meet the apprentice utilization requirement, what should I do?  

First, you should determine if there are any other areas where you or your subs have the ability to increase your utilization of apprentices. If there are not, you will need to collect documentation demonstrating that you made a good faith effort to meet the requirement. If you cannot demonstrate that you made a good faith effort to meet the requirement you are not in compliance with the requirement. "Failure to comply with the requirements as specified may result in reduction or revocation of prequalification as allowed by WAC 468-16-190." 

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What should the Good Faith Effort I turn in look like?

Your good faith effort will be documentation of the efforts you made to utilize apprentices. You can add a narrative to describe the situations encountered and how they impacted your ability to meet the requirement, however it is the documentation demonstrating your efforts to utilize apprentices that is necessary to demonstrate you met the requirement through good faith. This documentation could be in the form of:

  • Letters or e-mail correspondence from apprenticeship programs or contractors
  • Documents showing that you or your subcontractors participate in State-Approved Apprenticeship Programs
  • Lists or L&I ARTS printouts showing the availability or lack of State-Approved Apprenticeship Programs
  • Agreements, contracts or subcontracts
  • Photographs
  • Payrolls, timecards and schedules
  • Spreadsheets or data from company systems
  • Logs of phone calls with names, dates and outcomes

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How will the Good Faith Effort be evaluated?

The WSDOT Project Engineer will review your GFE Documents to determine that:

  • The situation/s documented is a Good Faith Effort (meets the intent of the contract requirement and the spirit of the law) AND
  • The entire shortfall in apprentice participation could likely be attributable to the situations documented in your GFE
  • Your submittal will be evaluated based on your attempts to utilize apprentice labor. The Project Engineer will also evaluate the situation/s documented to determine if what you have documented could be solely responsible for the entire shortfall in apprentice hours. 

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What situation/s meet the intent of the contract in terms of the Good Faith Effort?  

In most cases the Good Faith Effort will be documentation demonstrating that you or a subcontractor participates in State-Approved Apprenticeship Programs but no apprentices were available or not enough apprentices were available during the project. It is expected that contractors participate in apprenticeship programs for occupations where they have employees being trained. If apprentices are not available for dispatch at the beginning of a long-duration job, it is expected the contractor check back with the program periodically to see if apprentices are available.

If a conflicting Federal requirement such as TERO, Federal Training or DBE goals affected your ability to utilize apprentices, this will be accepted as long as it is determined that conflicting requirements (or other acceptable efforts) are attributable for the entire shortfall in apprentice hours and provided that you met the Federal requirement.

The intent of the apprenticeship requirement is not for contractors to lay off their apprentice workers as soon as they journey out. If you have a small workforce and no hiring opportunity exists, this will be accepted as long as it is determined that this accounts for the entire shortfall in apprentice hours. You’ll need to demonstrate through documentation that your company has a history of hiring apprentices from State-Approved Apprenticeship Programs or enrolled your unskilled new-hires in these programs. You should also document any apprentices retained by your company and provide information about your project workforce and company workforce such as how long your workers have been employed and if they were hired as journeymen or apprentices and whether or not they graduated from State-Approved programs.

Other unique situations may come up. If you have questions about a situation you encounter, please contact the WSDOT Project Office you are working with for guidance.

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What situation/s DO NOT meet the intent of the contract in terms of the Good Faith Effort?

A number of commonly submitted concerns actually do not meet the contract requirement for demonstrating a Good Faith Effort. Keep in mind that the intent of the requirement is you will utilize State-Approved Apprenticeship Programs to train apprentices. Very few situations where a contractor does not use State-Approved Apprenticeship Programs to meet the requirement will be accepted. The following examples do NOT meet the requirement:

  • Falling short of the requirement due to subcontractors not using apprentices
  • Not using a State-Approved Apprenticeship Program while you are trying to get your own program approved by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council
  • Not using a State-Approved Apprenticeship Program due to cost
    Not using a State-Approved Apprenticeship Program because you are an out-of-state contractor
  • Not replacing an apprentice that quit or was fired
  • Not using enough apprentices because certain work is too dangerous or the apprentices do not have the appropriate skills. 

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What if I don’t want to put an apprentice on certain parts of the job due to the dangerous nature or work, or their skill level?

Everyone has to start somewhere so generally this is not a reason for being unable to meet the requirement. WSDOT recognizes that unique situations may exist. If you should encounter a situation where apprentices should not be used, document this with photos of the location or equipment. Obtain documentation demonstrating that the apprenticeship program agrees with the determination. The Project Engineer will evaluate the situation to determine if the shortfall in apprentice utilization could be attributed to these situations where apprentices could not be used.

There are circumstances where WSDOT specifies a level of experience that workers must have to perform certain types of work. For example, WSDOT specifies that only experienced workers can be used for High Scaling and Drilling. In these cases, track the hours where experienced workers must be used and the Project Engineer will subtract them from the total journeymen hours to see if the requirement was met without them. 

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I’m an out-of-state contractor and I’m having trouble finding apprenticeship programs. What should I do?

If you’ve been to L&I’s website and looked through their listing of available programs at:

http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Apprenticeship/Programs/default.asp

keep in mind that you can register as a traveling training agent in any of these programs. By joining as a traveling training agent, you won’t violate the terms of any programs you utilize in your home state. Be sure to mention this option when you call the programs you are interested in. 

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I’m a non-union contractor and there aren’t as many non-union programs as there are union programs. Does that mean I can’t meet the requirement?

Absolutely not. Non-union contractors can use union apprenticeship programs to train their employees. You do not have to sign a union agreement to utilize a union program and state law prohibits programs from asking you to join the union. If you are asked to join the union or told you must do so to utilize the program, please contact your regional L&I Apprenticeship Coordinator. A list is available at:

http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Apprenticeship/About/AppCoordinators/default.asp

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When the project started, I had apprentices, but some of them graduated. There isn’t enough work left to provide much training if I hired new apprentices, but if I don’t I might fall short of meeting the requirement. What can I do?

You can receive “good faith effort” credit for apprentices that graduated through the end of the construction season for all projects that they work on as long as the apprentice remains continuously employed with the same contractor they were working for when they graduated. If the apprentice is employed on a project of significant duration, they may be counted toward good faith effort credit for a year after their graduation or until the end of the project (whichever comes first). These graduates must be paid journeyman wages. The next available hire should always be an apprentice. Do not report these hours on the apprentice section of your monthly report. The hours must be reported as journeyman hours. Track them separately and the impact on overall project hours will be taken into account when WSDOT reviews your good faith effort documentation.

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I have enough apprentices to meet the requirement, but they have to go to classroom training during the project and I may fall short of the requirement now. What can I do?

Document which apprentices had to attend classroom training and how long they were there. Submit to the Project Engineer information about the number of hours they would have been scheduled to work on the job during this period had they not been in classroom training. The Project Engineer will add these hours to the cumulative apprentice hours and see if the requirement could have been met had the apprentices not been in class. 

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I’m trying hard to meet the requirement but having trouble retaining apprentices. What can I do? 

When an apprentice leaves the project, document the date the apprentice stopped working. Also document the date you called dispatch for another apprentice or began a hiring process. If you are hiring, document the dates various actions took place such as advertising for the job, the deadline for applications and when interviews took place. Submit documentation showing when the replacement apprentice arrived on the work site. WSDOT will take the period of time you were without an apprentice into account in your good faith effort as long as you demonstrate you acted in a reasonable amount of time to replace the lost apprentice.

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I was on track to meet the requirement but WSDOT requested a change to the contract that affected my plan for apprentice utilization and makes it difficult for me to meet the requirement based on where I had planned to have apprentices. What should I do?

WSDOT understands that contract changes can affect apprentice utilization. If a contract change decreases hours in areas where you planned to have apprentices, or increases hours in areas where you are not training WSDOT will consider this in your Good Faith Effort. You should update your Apprentice Utilization Plan to demonstrate how much the change will affect utilization. At this time, we encourage you to contact your Project Manager and your subcontractors' Project Managers to see if apprentice utilization can be increased in other areas. 

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What are the consequences of not meeting the apprentice utilization requirement? 

If you do not meet the requirement through utilization or by demonstrating as Good Faith Effort, "Failure to comply with the requirements as specified may result in reduction or revocation of prequalification as allowed by WAC 468-16-190."

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