While “You’re Fired!” was his TV catchphrase on The Apprentice, on Thursday President Donald Trump asked companies to say “You’re Hired” to apprentices across the country.
In signing the executive order, Trump roughly doubled to $200 million the taxpayer money spent on learn-to-earn programs. Under the order, the Labor Department will set up broad standards to allow industries to design individual apprenticeships.
“We’re training people to have great jobs and high paying jobs,” Trump said at a White House ceremony. “We’re here today to celebrate the dignity of work and the greatness of the American worker.”
The increased funding will come from existing federal programs. The president is directing the government to review and streamline some 43 workforce programs across 13 agencies.
Companies have long complained that they can’t find trained people to fill highly technical jobs, and apprenticeship programs have sprung up around the country. Up until now, companies had to register with the Labor Department and adhere to specific government guidelines.
And the nation’s industries are behind building apprenticeship opportunities. As Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, wrote in his intro to WorkingNation’s FutureWork series, Toyota: Model of the Future, “The United States can empower individuals to seize a brighter future in manufacturing by Establishing apprenticeships and on-the-job training to allow employees to earn a paycheck while they grow their skills.”
Nonetheless, apprenticeships are few and far between. Of the 146 million jobs in the United States, about 0.35 percent — or slightly more than a half-million — were filled by active apprentices in 2016. So to achieve the goal of filling millions of more jobs through apprenticeships, it would require the government to massively ramp up its efforts.
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