- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has postponed an announcement for its apprenticeship initiative that was scheduled for this week due to the effects of the recent federal government shutdown, an agency spokesperson told HR Dive in an emailed statement.
- DOL would have announced this past Monday $150 million in funding for an industry-led apprenticeship program and $73 million in funds for states to expand existing programs, Politico reported. The outlet quoted an unnamed agency official who described "growing frustration" at DOL over the initiative; "The apprenticeship initiative is crashing," the official told Politico.
- DOL said in July 2018 it would award $150 million in federal grants to support "sector-based approaches" to expand apprenticeship programs, particularly within industry segments that don't typically use such programs. The application process for the grants was spelled out that same month, and an application was prepared and submitted for publication in the Federal Register in September. The DOL spokesperson told HR Dive the application is subject by law to two periods of public commentary, which closed Jan. 28, and is now awaiting final Office of Management and Budget review.
The Labor Department has made apprenticeships and worker training a priority as it seeks to act on President Donald Trump's goals for promoting workforce development. Business and advocacy groups have recently stepped up their pitches on the subject, appealing for more government action in helping to fill open positions.
A separate but related announcement on the issue came this week when the U.S. Department of Commerce revealed the date of the inaugural meeting of the American Workforce Advisory Board — March 6 — in a Federal Register announcement. The Board is one of two entities Trump created with a July 2018 executive order and, according to the White House, will be tasked with advising administration officials on developing "a national strategy for empowering American workers." Members of the board include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.
On top of the $150 million investment announced in 2018, DOL awarded nearly $1.5 million to grantees working to recruit, train, upskill and retain women in industries like infrastructure, manufacturing and cybersecurity. The White House has said that partner groups that signed onto its "Pledge to the American Worker" are committed to creating 6 million training opportunities, with Walmart alone pledging to create 1 million.
It's unclear whether the comment made to Politico is representative of the state of DOL's training initiative progress, but employers are still awaiting details on the apprenticeship program's application process. And the agency has refuted the official's comment: "Apprenticeships are growing across our nation, and any statement to the contrary ignores this fact," the DOL spokesperson told HR Dive.