President Trump toured a Wisconsin technical school this week before giving a roundtable speech, promoting his plan to bridge the 6-million skilled job gap between workers and industry using “high quality” vocational training and apprenticeships.
Trump said he will partner with businesses and educational facilities to provide skilled workers to in-demand sectors such as agriculture, information technology, healthcare, and construction.
“We want a future where every high school in America offers apprenticeship opportunities for young citizens — and studying things that they want to study, and studying things that they’re going to be great at,” Trump said.
“Under this vision, high school students could learn, and they could earn. And, boy, when I say earn, they can make great, great salaries doing something that they love — learn invaluable skills, find a career they love, and enter the workforce faster and without debt.”
Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta detailed the administration’s plan at a press conference Monday to expand apprenticeships across most industries without increased federal spending. He challenged that the amount of money put into a program correlated with its success, and suggested instead, to measure by the outcome.
Acosta encouraged teenagers to pursue alternatives to a four-year degree, and emphasized the benefits of vocational training over a college degree.
“Individuals who complete apprenticeship programs have an average starting salary of about $60,000 a year.” Acosta said. “Nine out of ten are employed upon completion of the programs. Both the starting salary and the employment rate are higher than that of traditional college graduates.”
Although unemployment is at 4.3 percent, the lowest rate since 2001, Trump said Monday he is targeting the “forgotten men and women ” out of the labor force, who can get good, well-paying jobs that do not require college degrees.
The White House has been negotiating with major manufacturers and CEOs to boost apprenticeship graduates in the American workforce. To jumpstart this process, Acosta sent a memo to cabinet members requesting support for a rollback of federal regulations hindering apprenticeship growth.
The labor secretary said that our economy has the highest job vacancies ever, and cited a Business Roundtable survey that found 95 percent of executives reported problems finding qualified workers.
“Every CEO that I have spoken with has made a personal commitment to pursuing these,” Acosta said. “The CEOs are excited.”