The skills gap affecting manufacturing businesses may see a solution in a new initiative. Working with advisor Ivanka Trump, private enterprises, industry associations, democrats and republicans, President Trump and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta outlined a plan to reorganize existing labor programs and make apprenticeships more accessible. The reorganization of the ApprenticeshipUSA program aims to make good on Trump’s campaign promise to create more jobs, such as the 2 million unfilled manufacturing jobs looming in the next decade, part of 6 million unfilled jobs across multiple industries.
As a part of “workforce development week” beginning June 12, the White House released a plan to reorganize ApprenticeshipUSA, a bipartisan labor initiative spearheaded by the Obama administration. The new plan will increase funding from $90 million to $200 million, reportedly by consolidating existing labor programs under one roof. With 43 job training programs available across 13 different government agencies, the new rules are meant to streamline the programs, eliminating red-tape and narrowing oversight.
While the ApprenticeshipUSA program can apply to a wide array of businesses and industries, manufacturers stand to benefit significantly from the successful expansion of ApprenticeshipUSA. The new order limits restrictions, requires less monitoring and reporting, and gives businesses, associations, unions, and other organizations more freedom to design apprenticeship programs as they see fit. Although with less oversight, the programs may also invite misuse of government funding, poor training, or the exploitation of apprentices. It will be up to private enterprises and industry agencies to design honest programs mutually beneficial for businesses and apprentices.
Apprenticeships give businesses the opportunity to sculpt, teach, and transition new workers, while workers can shift straight from school to a skilled job without debt. However, apprenticeships are a powerful tool underutilized by both workers and employers today. Labor Secretary Acosta said in a speech that only 3% of workers are apprenticeship grads today.
Apprenticeship programs can recruit new workers from high school, college, community organizations, veteran’s organizations, online, or they may accept traditional applications. With more flexibility and without the requirement to register apprenticeship programs, companies will be able to recruit, teach, and introduce new workers in a way that best suits both parties. R&M supports the expansion of apprenticeship programs and encourages all businesses to build strong apprenticeship programs to fill valuable positions. For more information, visit dol.gov/apprenticeship.