Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Trump signs order for more apprentices


"The goals of this program will be met with the broader Apprenticeship program", the budget notes. While the president is touring states to promote his expertise in apprenticeship programs, his daughter and Assistant to the President, Ivanka Trump, has been making the rounds on the networks to promote an expansion of these programs to help prepare workers for a changing economy. The executive order defines an apprenticeship as an "arrangement that includes a paid-work component and an educational or instructional component, wherein an individual obtains workplace-relevant knowledge and skills", a major departure from the existing federal definition, which is much more specific regarding the structure of on-the-job training, and the wage schedule.

But there are cultural, political and practical obstacles to creating such a system.

In the U.S., the apprenticeship model is most commonly used in the electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and construction professions.

German students are required to choose a career track while in high school.

How many people participate in apprenticeship programs?

"The Secretaries of Defense, Labor, and Education, and the Attorney General, shall, in consultation with each other and consistent with applicable law, promote apprenticeships and pre apprenticeships for America's high school students and Job Corps participants, for persons now or formerly incarcerated, for persons not now attending high school or an accredited post-secondary educational institution, and for members of America's armed services and veterans", the executive order stated.

The linchpins of the German apprenticeship system are employers themselves, which cover two-thirds of the total training costs - roughly $6.3 billion a year - for the country's 1.5 million college-age apprentices. For one thing, it would be expensive. The order will expand money spent for apprenticeship grants to nearly $200 million annually from $90 million, according to the political news website. The point here is to foster private-private partnerships between industry and educational institutions so that when students go to a community college, or when students are looking at apprenticeship programs in the building trades or in four-year institutions - when they leave, they have the skills necessary to enter the workforce. And tracking students at an early age runs the risk of pushing minorities and the poor into low-paying professions.

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The president's stated goal is to improve the readiness and employability of US workers and to better match unemployed USA workers with open job opportunities, especially in the 350,000 manufacturing jobs that are now unfilled.

Trump's top aides have made it clear that he envisions a far wider reach for apprenticeships than now exists.

That's especially true in industries without a track record of employing apprentices, such as technology, health care and finance. Democrats, backed by organized labor, support programs that will create more union jobs.

It can be done. Higher education, however, is becoming increasingly unaffordable. It has become a sponsor of registered apprenticeship programs offered by companies, meaning that it streamlines the process by doing all the administrative work. Job enthusiasm and manufacturing, business enthusiasm is at record levels; never been higher. "We're concerned that the quality of apprenticeships be maintained", he says. Filling millions more jobs through apprenticeships would require the government to massively ramp up its efforts. "I don't think the general public knows that we have these registered apprenticeship programs", she says.

In Donald Trump, apprenticeships may have found their ideal salesman.

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), a former DE labor secretary, said there might be a need to refocus funds.

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