Trump Issues Executive Order on Apprenticeships

JUNE 19, 2017

President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) last week aimed at expanding apprenticeship programs in the United States and instructing the Department of Labor (DOL) to propose regulations that allow development of apprenticeship programs by third parties, such as trade associations, unions, or businesses, that would be approved and certified by the Government.

Apprenticeships will be at the center of the Trump administration’s workforce-training efforts. The White House says that hands-on learning best prepares Americans for in-demand jobs. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training and classroom education, and the participants earn a certification.

During the EO signing ceremony, President Trump stated, “We’re empowering these companies, these unions, industry groups, federal agencies to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens. Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four-year college degrees. Instead, apprentices earn while they learn — which is an expression we’re using: Earn while you learn.”

The EO notes that the too many individuals are pursuing undergraduate degrees at considerable expense and time, but are not adequately trained and equipped with the skills necessary for today’s jobs.

The EO adds that “federal programs must do a better job matching unemployed American workers with open jobs, including the 350,000 manufacturing jobs currently available.”

Under existing apprenticeship rules, DOL directs how programs are administered, the length of hands-on training, and the minimum number of required hours of classroom instruction. As part of the EO, DOL is directed to assemble a task force to determine strategies and opportunities to promote apprenticeship programs at high schools, community colleges and four-year universities.

The EO also seeks to align federal funds with accredited apprenticeship programs and mandates that the Secretary of Labor establish an “Excellence in Apprenticeships” program within two years that recognizes trade associations or businesses for their efforts in implementing quality programs.