Contractors welcome Trump’s take on apprenticeship, vocational training programs

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor; Associated Builders & Contractors, Washington, D.C.

With an eye to reducing regulatory burdens on workforce development, one of President Donald Trump’s latest Executive Orders calls on the Secretary of Labor, in consultation with Department of Education and Commerce counterparts, to propose regulations promoting development of apprenticeship programs by industry, trade or nonprofit groups, unions and joint labor-management organizations. It also directs the Commerce and Labor departments to promote apprenticeships to business leaders in manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.

“[Our] Department will work expeditiously to execute the president’s vision and begin to implement measures to expand the apprenticeship and vocational training programs that can help our economy thrive, while keeping good, high-paying jobs in America,” Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta noted during a White House gathering for the Executive Order signing. “There are six million job openings in the United States … the highest number of vacancies on record. Apprenticeships teach the skills needed to find good jobs and to succeed in those jobs. Apprentices are a proven pathway to helping businesses find the workers they need, while helping workers launch prosperous careers without the crushing burden of student debt.”

“Associated Builders and Contractors looks forward to working with the secretaries of Labor, Commerce and Education to develop new, innovative and effective models to train an expanding American workforce,” says ABC President Mike Bellaman. “With our industry in need of half a million workers today and even more in the future, we need to expand upon current apprenticeship methods that have left us with a worker shortage and embrace an all-of-the-above training approach to meet the needs of a 21st century workforce.”

ABC and its 70 chapters, he adds, are doing their part to build a safe, skilled and productive pool of construction professionals using advanced and flexible learning models like “earn while you learn,” just-in-time task training, competency-based progression, work-based learning and government-registered apprenticeships. In addition to an annual investment of $1.1 billion into work-based training by ABC member companies, local chapters and affiliated training centers offer more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, safety and management training programs.