Task Force Makes Recommendations on Apprenticeships

May 15, 2018

The Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion last week sent President Trump its final report, outlining 26 recommendations to heighten the prestige and access to apprenticeship programs.

“President Trump’s Administration is committed to bridging the skills gap by creating apprenticeships that reflect the needs of jobs creators,” DOL Secretary Acosta said in a statement. “The Task Force established through the President’s Executive Order brought together varied perspectives to create a strategy for expanding apprenticeships across all industries.”

The report by the 20-member Task Force, including the labor, education and commerce secretaries, notes the immense costs of higher education, highlighting that most students graduating with a four-year degree are $37,000 in debt and that overall student debt stands at $1.3 trillion. “A key facet of developing a revitalized apprenticeship approach is changing the ingrained societal mind-set that a traditional 4-year baccalaureate degree is the only pathway to success,” the report states.

The Task Force divided itself into four subgroups to explore education and credentialing, attracting businesses, expanding access, and administrative strategies. The recommendations from these four subgroups address apprenticeship programs that are affordable and educational. The report also outlines ways to work with businesses and other groups to improve or launch apprenticeship programs, including through multiple associations in a single industry sector.

The proposed apprenticeship system described in the report would encourage employers to offer apprenticeships by updating the criteria for federal subsidies of these programs and streamlining access with state grants.

To better determine where the programs could grow, the Task Force wants the federal government to “conduct and make available a needs analysis to identify existing skills shortages and quantify the benefits of apprenticeships in meeting labor challenges, and also compile apprenticeship information in a single, online, centralized website.”

President Trump instructed DOL to assemble the task force via an Executive Order in 2017, aiming to expand apprenticeship programs in the U.S. and instructing 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. The current federal rules on apprenticeships are described by many experts as overly cumbersome.

After review by the White House, DOL will issue a substantive proposal to formally amend the regulatory framework governing apprenticeships.