- To promote his apprenticeship and training program initiatives, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to expand federally funded apprenticeship and training programs for workers that he says are struggling to find jobs but lack the skills needed in todays's job market, The New York Times reports. With backing from the business community, his plan would essentially redirect $100 million of federal job-training funds to new apprenticeships.
- Trump's support of apprenticeships has rekindled the debate over whether the skills gap is preventing many workers from good-paying finding jobs, the Times notes. Opponents, including some economists, say that the scarcity of high-paying jobs — not job skills — is the main reason people can't find jobs that pay a living wage and don't require a college degree or advanced training.
- The order allows industries to write their own standards for apprenticeships to be approved by the DOL, essentially cutting down regulation.
While the skills debate continues, businesses and even some states are still using apprenticeships successfully to train workers for jobs. Apprenticeship programs have been associated with blue-collar manufacturing jobs, but there's a significant return on investment for such programs for white-collar jobs in IT and healthcare, as well, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University.
But for many, apprenticeships are a key doorway into well-paying industries that can help young workers side-step expensive (and in some cases, unnecessary) four-year college degrees. Idaho is reserving $1.4 million for apprenticeship programs that can fill the skills gap in construction-related jobs, for example.
Apprenticeship programs also help employers in manufacturing and construction overcome the "image gap" by providing visibility to the actual opportunities available in said industries. Young talent tends to bypass such jobs, partly because their parents often tell them to aim for different jobs based on assumptions that the industries are backbreaking and won't allow for promotion. Employers are now teaming up with schools to try and educate both kids and their parents about opportunities that exist in construction, manufacturing and a number of other sectors.