Feds’ Apprenticeship task force light on contractor representation

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

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has appointed ABC President Mike Bellaman to the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, stemming from an executive order President Donald Trump issued earlier this year with an eye to strengthening the U.S. labor force.

“This an opportune moment for the next generation of American workers and a valuable step for the economy,” says Bellaman. “Regardless of their access to higher education, all Americans deserve the chance to acquire a variety of skills that can lead to high-paying and fulfilling careers. As the president promised in his election night acceptance speech, every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential under his administration. That sentiment will drive this task force as we work to promote affordable education and rewarding jobs.”

Joining him on the 23-member task force are counterparts with business and organized-labor groups, chiefly U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Thomas Donohue and National Association of Manufacturers’ Jay Timmons, along with North America’s Building Trades Unions’ Sean McGarvey and United Brotherhood of Carpenters’ Douglas McCarron. According to Executive Order 13801, they and fellow task force members will submit to the White House proposals focused on: federal initiatives to promote apprenticeships; administrative and legislative reforms facilitating apprenticeship program formation and success; effective strategies for creating industry-recognized apprenticeships; and, effective strategies for amplifying and encouraging private-sector initiatives to promote apprenticeships.

The task force comes at a critical time for industries like construction, which employs about 7.5 million people. By ABC estimates, the industry needs to hire 500,000 skilled workers to fill a backlog of existing jobs. Vacancies could balloon to more than one million if Congress and President Trump approve a major infrastructure bill.

“Expanding apprenticeships will help Americans learn the skills they need to fill jobs that are open right now and in the future. I am pleased to see business leaders, unions, educational institutions, and industry groups come together to help the American worker. [They] provide varied perspectives that will help guide the Administration’s strategy on growing apprenticeship programs nationwide,” affirms Secretary Acosta, who is chairing the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross serving as vice chairs.

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