When President Donald Trump held a ceremony at the White House today to celebrate apprenticeship programs, he talked of the "dignity of work" and stressed that apprenticeships get students "great jobs" without the "crippling debt of traditional four-year colleges degrees".
Trump's Executive Order mandates that the Department of Labor review current federal workforce programs, charging the Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, with developing a program that enables private sector businesses and trade associations to develop their own apprenticeships. While the executive order will take time to fully implement, it reflects the Trump administration's emphasis on expanding job opportunities for all workers, especially middle class jobs, while channeling taxpayer dollars into effective and successful apprenticeship and job training programs. "We're empowering companies, unions, industry groups and federal agencies to go out and create new opportunities for millions of citizens".
The president wants students to be able to use federal student aid for a wide variety of "earn while you learn" programs, including apprenticeships, the White House officials said.
Addressing questions about those proposed cuts during an appearance in the White House press briefing room, Acosta said the administration hopes to foster "private to private partnerships" on job training.
"Apprenticeship programs look like a win-win solution for employers, employees and society", he says, before adding that companies must play their part.
Experts are encouraged by the administration's plan to invest in apprenticeships, but caution that they aren't the only solution to train workers. Most expenses from apprenticeships are incurred by the employers. For many years, we have worked to pass this legislation which would create an incentive for America's small businesses to hire apprentices. The executive order addresses the nation's "skills gap" that have left millions of open jobs unfilled. "We have regulations on top of regulations".
The Department of Labor to date has been very prescriptive and very restrictive on the apprenticeship programs, but the Department of Labor is not an expert as to various individual sectors and what the qualifications are.
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Trump's top aides have made it clear that he envisions a far wider reach for apprenticeships than now exists.
UPDATED Trump's desire to pare back regulations that stand in the way of creating new apprenticeships anxious some lawmakers.
More than half opt for a two- to three-year paid apprenticeship with a business, alongside part-time classes at a technical school.
The National Skills Coalition said it appreciates that the executive order includes a public comment period on new regulations from the Labor Department that relate to the apprenticeship push. Apprenticeships that are already certified by the Labor Department would not change.
Trump said Tuesday during a visit to the state that, "Just backstage, we were negotiating with a major, major incredible manufacturer of phones and computers and televisions, and I think they're going to give the governor a very happy surprise very soon".
Now he and his administration need to highlight programs that work, and provide support to companies, schools and governments - and not incidentally, students - to make them viable for more Americans. It will also provide more funding and create a task force of business leaders to help promote the programs across new sectors, as well as assess the effectiveness of the job-training programs now in place.
"And the Senate's getting ready to do something, hopefully it will get done, where we will come up with a solution - and a really good one for health care", said President Trump.
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