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Trump, working with Ivanka, to push expanded apprenticeship programs

19 June 2017

"The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation has already begun creating and implementing our apprenticeship program and with today's Executive Order we will have even more opportunities to help employees in the hospitality industry move up the ladder for fulfilling and rewarding careers", stated Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and chief executive.

The administration did not mention any new money Thursday, but sources said it plans to announce an allocation of up to $200 million, which would be more than double the $90 million for apprenticeships in this year's federal budget.

Programs must lead to an associate, bachelor's, professional, or graduate degree, last for at least two years and provide full credit toward a bachelor's degree, or last at least one academic year and culminate in a certificate or other "nondegree recognized credential" that "prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation".

He signed executive orders that loosen federal restrictions on job-training programs and encourage partnerships between business and colleges to train young workers for a vast array of jobs that employers struggle to fill.

Trump is ordering a review of the existing 43 workforce-development programs, which sprawl across 13 federal agencies and spend $16.7 billion annually.

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During a White House press briefing held earlier in the week, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta touted apprenticeships, commenting, "the private-private partnership where businesses come together with educational institutions to actually focus on demand-driven education, to focus education on the skills that business is demanding has worked in other sectors and can work throughout the economy".

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 15, 2017.

Companies have long complained that they can't find trained people to fill highly technical jobs, and apprenticeship programs have sprung up around the country. "But the Department of Labor still sits over and above it and still adjudicates it at the end of the day".

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

While the funding is now limited to about $1,000 per apprentice, Gifford says increased funding and less cumbersome regulations for employers will likely increase utilization of apprenticeships by making it more attractive to employers. "A November 2016 report by former President Barack Obama's Commerce Department found that "apprenticeships are not fully understood in the United States, especially" by employers, who tend to use apprentices for a few, hard-to-fill positions" but not as widely as they could. Amazon (AMZN), which now offers a "career-choice" training program, expects its level of participants to double by the year 2020, according to Dave Clarke, the company's SVP of Worldwide Operations.

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Trump's top aides have made it clear that he envisions a far wider reach for apprenticeships than now exists. Apprenticeships are available across a variety of disciplines, but are most common in the construction, manufacturing, public administration and transportation industries. But some Democrats and Obama administration DOL officials criticized the order for ceding too much control to companies without the traditional degree of government oversight.

"Right now we do have a pretty complicated system; it's uneven", Robert Lerman, an Urban Institute fellow who researches apprenticeship, told Bloomberg BNA.

Another complication: only about half of apprentices finish their multi-year programs.

As of previous year, 505,000 people held apprenticeships in the US, according to Department of Labor data.

Trump's resume includes the hit television show, "The Apprentice". And we know how that turned out.

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