Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Trump Signs Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities


The executive order is meant to improve industry flexibility and scale up the earn-as-you-learn job training program by allowing companies to tailor the guidelines to their own workforce needs.

Under current rules, the Labor Department is too heavy handed in crafting the programs, a senior White House official said in advance of Trump's announcement, expected late Thursday morning. It should help fill numerous almost six million jobs that now are open, including 350,000 in manufacturing, Mr. Trump said.

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 14.7 million employees.

Likewise, U.S. Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, who is the top Democrat on the House education committee, said in a written statement that the order fails to "maintain necessary quality controls and accountability requirements".

Mr. Trump credited his daughter Ivanka for her leadership on the initiative, saying that she "worked so hard understands how important it is to train people to have great, high paying jobs". "We've also loaded on various kinds of extra regulations-some of them vary by state-with regard to things like how many skilled mentor trainers do you need for every apprentice". "Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of four-year college degrees. That's when I knew for sure I was doing it", Trump said.

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Registered apprenticeships are administered by a special office within the US Department of Labor in conjunction with state agencies. The executive order would leave it to industry to design apprenticeships under broad standards to be set by the Labor Department.

"We get that he wants to put a little more money toward the grants, but they're also trying to eliminate some of the oversight", said Sen.

UPDATED Trump's desire to pare back regulations that stand in the way of creating new apprenticeships anxious some lawmakers. Americans want to work, but executives are having trouble finding workers with the appropriate skills to fill open positions, they say.

"We're empowering these companies, these unions, industry groups, federal agencies to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens", Trump said.

The order will also reduce onerous regulations that stifled the program, which was backed by the Obama administration and lawmakers from both parties.

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The shortages for specifically trained workers cut across various job sectors, from construction trades to agriculture, manufacturing, information technology and health care. Companies are already free to start apprenticeship programs outside of the government's registered apprenticeship program.

In addition, the executive order directs the Secretary of Labor, in conjunction with the secretaries of Commerce and Education, to establish an Excellence in Apprenticeship Program within two years of the date of the order.

"In Germany you have a situation where you can get tax accounting apprenticeships" says Robert Lerman, a fellow at the Washington, DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, and the founder of the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship.

Another complication: only about half of apprentices finish their multi-year programs. Fewer than 50,000 people — including 11,104 in the military — completed their apprenticeships in 2016, according to Labor Department.

Another successful model is the state-run Apprenticeship Carolina program in SC, which serves as an intermediary between businesses, workers and educational institutions.

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