When a room full of passionate apprenticeship advocates met in Washington yesterday for the first day of the Apprenticeship Forward conference, the mood was understandably upbeat and optimistic. Why? Because calls for the U.S. to expand apprenticeship programs seem to be gaining more traction daily. And overnight the news had come through that Congress’ omnibus budget compromise would again expand funding for apprenticeships, to $95 million over the next year. Now more than ever, Americans need educational options and career pathways which are cost effective and oriented to delivering skilled careers and stable employment. That common ground was found to expand appropriations in the budget bill, is a strong signal that interest in apprenticeships is not expendable.