U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta detailed the Trump administration’s plan to bridge the labor gap Monday, to connect job seekers with executives looking to fill 6 million open positions in the country through expanded “high quality” apprenticeship programs.
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“Our program will be geared toward all industries and all jobs. The point here is to foster private-private partnerships between industry and educational institutions … so that when [students leave the program] they have the skills necessary to enter the workforce,” Acosta said during a White House press briefing Monday.
Acosta noted that graduates of vocational schools are more in-demand than traditional college graduates.
“[Apprentices have an] average starting salary of about $60,000 per year. Nine out of 10 are employed upon completion of the programs. Both the starting salary and the employment rate are higher than that of traditional college graduates,” he said, adding they aren’t burdened by crippling student loan debt either.
Right now, the U.S. labor secretary said only 3 percent of the American workforce are apprenticeship graduates. The White House has been working to expand this number by hosting business roundtables with executives and Ivanka Trump, special advisor to the president, has personally conducted meetings with CEOs across the country. Acosta said CEOs are open to the idea because they are having trouble finding employees with the right skill sets to fill certain positions.
“Every CEO that I have spoken with has made a personal commitment to pursuing these [programs]. The CEOs are excited. I attended a business roundtable event around this and … the CEOs are looking forward to it because the CEOs want a skilled workforce … and they recognize Americans want to work, we just need to marry up the desire to work with the workforce skills,” Acosta said.
Ivanka Trump also spoke about the importance of apprenticeship programs during an interview on FOX & Friends Monday, saying they could help bring the labor market to “full participation.”
The push comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s trip to a technical school in Wisconsin Tuesday, where the administration is expected to make an announcement regarding vocational and apprenticeship programs.