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Trump Signs Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeship Programs

by Countable | 6.15.17

President Donald Trump signed an executive order today focused on bolstering apprenticeship to "promote affordable education and rewarding jobs for American workers". The Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America calls for the establishment and support of new, paid apprenticeship programs through industry groups and educational institutions to provide skills-focused education that will result in “high paying jobs in today’s workforce”.

The order also calls for the elimination and streamlining of existing federal programs focused on job training and the establishment of a temporary Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. The Taskforce will be responsible for identifying "strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships, especially in sectors where apprenticeship programs are insufficient". The Taskforce is expected to present a report to the president on their findings, at which point it will be disbanded.

The underlying premise of the executive order is focused on what is referred to as the "skills gap", the idea that there are millions of well-paying jobs out there that require specialized skills but not a college degree. If workers are trained for these jobs, the opportunities are waiting for them.

Though it is true that there are a record number of open jobs in the job market, nearly six million as noted by Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta to reporters recently, economists disagree on whether or not the "skills gap" is responsible for many of them remaining open. In an op-ed in Politico Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, argued that, “demand is growing for middle-skill workers—machinists, technicians, health care practitioners and a broad range of other roles.” However, the New York Times notes that extensive economic research points to exactly the opposite trend:

"The proportion of middle-skill jobs in the economy has declined since the 1980s, while relative job growth has been concentrated at either the low end of the spectrum, like retail, or the high end, like software development, a related phenomenon economists refer to as job-market "polarization.” The former class of jobs tends to be undesirable for many former factory workers. The latter tends to be out of reach even with additional training.”

The order does not call for increases in overall funding, but for the redirecting of existing funds within the Department of Labor. The existing ApprenticeshipUSA program’s $90 million budget would be supplemented with $100 million in redirected funds from other Labor Department programs.

The ApprenticeshipUSA program has historically garnered bipartisan support, so of the president’s various policy proposals since taking office, this one is likely to ruffle few feathers. According to the Washington Post, the administration is also seeking wider bipartisan support moving forward, a different strategy than employed around healthcare and tax reform.

Do you think the president’s executive order is a step in the right direction or an attempt to reclaim an economic reality whose time has past? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Navair News / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(38)
  • D
    06/15/2017
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    Ummm can someone expand upon the difference between federal programs focused on jobs training (which are being eliminated) and this apprenticeship program? Is there an actual operational, functional, content specific difference or is trump just renaming something done under the last administration to make it sound more bigly and better? Sarcasm aside I'm honestly curious about the difference.

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  • Ken
    06/15/2017
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    I retired from the INTERNATIONAL UNION OF SHEET METAL WORKERS. The apprenticeship is a four year training both in studies and on the job. A very good skill to be accessed with good pay and a pension. Union dues are low, especially compared to health insurance provided and a very liveable pension, especially when combined with social security benefits.

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  • Patty
    06/15/2017
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    Increased opportunities in training for trades is good, but what other programs are going to be cut to redirect the extra money?

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  • Ticktock
    06/15/2017
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    Apprenticeship programs or OJT (On the Job Training) has existed for years. Use to be that jobs that require OJT apprentice programs were concentrated in heavy industry and were the first jobs where robotic replace the workers. Now you find OJT programs available in heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical fields and construction. The only problem there is that part of the training is in the classroom with a period of apprenticeship. I have friends that have there own electrical company but will not become involved with OJT programs. They find it easier to hire off the street employees as needed and they have high turnover due to low pay and no benefits. Even if OJTs were used the current market seems to be saturated. How many plumbers, electricians, or brick masons can the market support? Again this sounds like another of Trump's great ideas but one that will have the impact that is intended. It would be better to enable those people who want to improve their resume to further the traditional education that can be applied in many different fields rather than aim for one target and find that there are too many arrows in the bulls eye already. Provide 2 years free community college. The companies in the region can assist the college design curricula to fit the employment in that area.

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  • Jeff
    06/15/2017
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    No additional funding just more control for big corps. Why are tax payers paying to train big corps. employees?

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  • KansasTamale
    06/16/2017
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    Lynn Jenkins, Pat Roberts, Jerry Moran. This is a ridiculous executive order especially since Trump just CUT PROGRAMS that do the same thing as this order. Besides his order doesn't set aside any extra money to cover the cost of the program. Besides apprenticeships are another term for slavery. Apprentices make no money. They essentially work for free. Maybe that's why there is no extra money. The programs we had for training & retraining were just fine. Trump should put them back in place and FUND THEM.

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  • Steve
    06/15/2017
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    This is great! We need these jobs before they all disappear and we have no one to fix or repair anything. Trump is making America Great Again!!!!

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  • VSB
    06/15/2017
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    These types of jobs are giving way to automation so I am not sure this will help increase jobs. It sounds like economists do not think so either.

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  • Michael
    06/16/2017
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    20th century solutions for an industrial based America. Too bad those jobs are being done by robots and cheap foreign labor now, and those are not the skills that will be in demand. Trump likes them because they usually pay little to nothing, thus benefitting his friends in the billionaires club.

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  • Marc
    06/15/2017
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    Sounds like a good thing

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  • Angelia
    06/15/2017
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    I would like to know more. Does the funding go to programs already in existence like most major trade unions provide, such as the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local that my husband is a member? Or does it establish new programs? We will always need skilled labor. These are good paying jobs with good benefits. I just know that when it comes to EOs, the devil is in the details.

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  • Karen
    06/15/2017
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    How does this add to the long-existing Department of Labor Apprenticeship program? Or just a name change for a photo opportunity?

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  • JTJ
    06/15/2017
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    If there is anything Trump knows how to do, it's creating jobs. Way to go!

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  • Leslie
    06/15/2017
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    Finally a good thing

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  • Joe
    06/15/2017
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    It's a terrible idea to reallocate funds. This is not the reason good jobs aren't filled or are nonexistent in the USA.

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  • Kevin
    06/16/2017
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    Expanding apprenticeship is a good idea, but I wonder at what cost and how this is going to expand economic opportunities

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  • Roslyn
    06/15/2017
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    More opportunities to create jobs this great....

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  • Dave
    06/16/2017
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    Would not need to do this, if they had not tried so hard to get rid of unions.

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  • Timnyc
    06/16/2017
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    This is a great first step and an important part of lifting people out of poverty..So yes this is the first time I will support the administration but back it up with money fund this program with help and input from the whole house and Senate make this a priority . If you build it they will come!!! Please build it please...

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  • flygirls
    06/17/2017
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    Any coal apprenticeships? I hope not... this is an Obama program... just glad Trump didn't trash it out of spite.

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