August 24, 2017
President Trump on June 15 signed an executive order aimed at expanding apprenticeship programs and reducing the federal role in setting their requirements. The directive instructs the Department of Labor (DOL) to consider regulations to let third parties, such as companies, trade associations, and labor unions, develop guidelines for apprenticeship plans so they can be designated a registered program. The DOL would review the guidelines.
There are currently only 550,000 apprenticeships in the country, although many employers claim they have job vacancies because of their inability to find people with job-ready skills. A recent Canadian study of employers across a dozen different fields found a net return of 47 cents for every dollar invested in apprenticeship training. Apprenticeships blend on-the-job work with paid classroom instruction and usually last two to six years. The U.S. federal government has regulated and certified apprenticeships since 1937.
The executive order will double the amount of money for apprenticeship grants in the Learn-to-Earn program, from $90 million to nearly $200 million a year, in stark contrast to the president’s proposed budget, which would impose a 36% cut to DOL job training programs overall.
The DOL reports that construction has the largest number of active apprentices among industries, with 144,583 in 2016—29% of the national total.
— ENR, Politico, Fortune