Congresswoman DeLauro calls out Trump administration for apprenticeship programs


- President Donald Trump on the need for better apprenticeship programs in the U.S.

"We will be removing federal restrictions that have prevented many different industries from creating apprenticeship programs", the president said.

These programs enjoy a fair amount of bipartisan support, and have gotten a lot of buzz in recent months: In a March roundtable discussion, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called on Trump to create 5 million apprenticeships in the next five years.

Despite many available job vacancies, millions of American workers do not have the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to thrive in a 21st century economy, the White House said in a fact sheet.

Rather than helping workers access quality, well-paying jobs, President Trump's deeply misguided proposal would make workers vulnerable to low-quality programs that don't offer the skills or wages apprenticeship programs for which apprenticeship programs are known.

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"Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four-year college degrees", Trump said Thursday while announcing the order.

According to a senior White House official quoted by Politico, "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". The Labor Department says nine in 10 apprentices who complete their programs find jobs.

"It locks in a massive (health care) funding disparity between expansion and non-expansion states", said Eric Borgerding, chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

Trump had planned to sign the executive order on apprenticeships during a trip to the Labor Department on Wednesday, but that visit was canceled following the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.

One official said that will cost around $200 million that will come from already-allocated Department of Labor funds. Add to that, news from NPR that only about a half-million of the nation's 146 million jobs were filled by apprentices previous year, and the challenges of the funding issues crystallize.

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Trump also says at a round table conversation at Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin that he loves the "name Apprentice" - a reference to the reality television show he used to host.

He said that he has been pushing for decades to get these training opportunities extended into high schools, the way they are in countries like Germany and Switzerland, but that his efforts have been roundly defeated by those concerned that job-skills programs limit certain students' options.

The president toured Waukesha County Technical College with his daughter Ivanka and Governor Scott Walker - dropping an economic development surprise.

Trump seems to be sending some mixed signals when it comes to job training.

We need more programs like this in more industries to have the positive impact we need to grow our domestic workforce and ensure our children and grandchildren are truly prepared for the job market. As a result, critics say the process has helped keep employer participation relatively light - just 0.3 percent of the work force are apprentices. Apprenticeship programs are registered with the DOL, and registration signifies to both workers and employers that the program meets certain standards.

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The shortages for specifically trained workers cut across multiple job sectors beyond Trump's beloved construction trades. "The goals of this program will be met with the broader Apprenticeship program", the budget notes.