The City of Bellevue recognizes that a highly skilled construction workforce is essential for the construction of public works projects and for enhancing economic growth. Workforce trends, without a concerted effort to offset them, may lead to an inadequate supply of skilled workers in the construction industry.
To create more opportunities for people entering a skilled trade to gain training and experience while earning living wages, the city is considering the creation of an apprenticeship program. Businesses selected by the city to perform large construction projects will be required to have at least 15% of the labor hours done by apprentices. This program will benefit apprentices and increase the pool of skilled labor here in the future.
If the City Council adopts an ordinance amending City Code Chapter 4.28, which governs procurement, according to the proposed schedule, the apprenticeship program would become effective for projects advertised for bid after Sept. 1, 2023.
The proposed public works apprentice requirements would apply to all public works contracts where the estimated cost of the project is $1 million or more. At least 15% of the labor hours under the contract would have to be performed by apprentices enrolled in a state-approved apprenticeship training program.
The city could reduce or waive the required hours based on the following factors:
- The requirement conflicts with state or federal funding conditions, or the conditions of any other grant or funding program
- An insufficient number of apprentices are available to meet the requirement
- There exists a disproportionately high ratio of equipment and material costs to anticipated labor hours, which does not make feasible the required level of apprenticeship utilization
- The contractor has demonstrated that it has used its best efforts to comply with the requirement, but remains unable to fulfill it
- In order to meet the requirement, the contractor will be forced to displace members of its workforce
- An emergency or threatened emergency exists, as determined pursuant to BCC 4.28.130.A.7
- Other reasons deemed appropriate by the director of Finance & Asset Management and not inconsistent with the purpose and goals of the program.
The city would regularly monitor overall labor hours and hours of work performed by apprentices through the state Department of Labor and Industries’ awarding agency portal, to which the contractor would be required to submit their certified payroll hours. If a contractor failed to comply with applicable apprenticeship requirements, the contractor would become ineligible to be considered a responsible bidder on future public works projects for a two-year period.
Specific administrative rules and regulations would be adopted by the director of Finance & Asset Management to implement, enforce and monitor the program. The FAM director would also require the production of an annual report for the City Council that would include details about the program’s performance.
More details about the program are available in a Frequently Asked Questions document, as well as the agenda materials from the Feb. 27 City Council meeting.