The NADL has been successful in identifying a different regulatory avenue to expedite the U.S. Department of Labor's reclassification for dental technicians, moving the original timeline for such a change up by five years.
In September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which falls under the Department of Labor (DOL), lowered the occupational status of dental technicians from skilled to unskilled labor after randomly surveying about 600 technicians about their educational backgrounds. Concerned about the repercussions of the reclassification, the NADL immediately began lobbying the Department of Labor to reverse its decision but was told that occupational classifications wouldn't be reviewed again until 2018.
However, the NADL began working with Rep. John Kline, R-MN—Gary Iocco, NADL boardmember and president of Red Wing Dental Arts, Hastings, MN, is a constituent—who started working with the DOL's Evaluation and Testing Administration. He determined that there's a possibility of fast-tracking the classification change request; the next survey will be conducted next year and changes to the classification system may be made as early as 2013.
The new survey will be different in that it will come directly from the NADL rather than the DOL, and will be sent to a much larger sampling: an NADL list of over 10,000 members and non-members. Unlike the previous survey that was generic in nature and used to generate data on a variety of occupations, the 2012 version will include specific questions related to the education and training necessary for dental technicians. It will also include an explanation of the purpose of the survey so respondents will know what they're filling out.
"This opportunity to provide more accurate data on the educational requirements necessary to be proficient as a dental technician will increase the industry's ability to obtain workforce development and training grants for laboratory educational programs to stay in existence," says Bennett Napier, executive director of the NADL. "Also, changing the classification would provide a more attractive profile for newcomers to the field."
For more information, see NADL Fights Federal 'Unskilled' Classification of Dental Technicians.