The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6%, the lowest rate since 1969, and last year we saw the highest share of people entering our labor force from the sidelines since we started tracking in the early 1990s. Through the White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers, job creators around the nation have committed to nearly 10 million training, upskilling or reskilling opportunities for American students and workers.
Our thriving job market brings with it new challenges, however. Our economy has 7.4 million open jobs, and for 14 months in a row it has had more job openings than job seekers. As businesses look to fill these jobs, we have an obligation to look for new ways to empower America’s workforce with the in-demand skills that employers need.
Our nation needs to empower more industries and professions to embrace apprenticeship opportunities. That is why the Trump administration is proposing a second apprenticeship model: the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship. The Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship program would stand alongside the Labor Department’s existing registered apprenticeships, which have found success in the building trades. This program would enable industries to come together through associations, consortia, nonprofits and other mechanisms to offer skills education to American students and workers.
Imagine if an employer joined forces with others in its industry to develop a cashier-to-store-manager program that would empower employees to have not only a job but a career — one that would allow employees to collect paychecks while at the same time learning the skills needed to climb the career ladder.
By the end of June, the Department of Labor will award $183 million to consortia of businesses and educational institutions to support Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship programs in sectors where apprenticeships are not widespread, such as technology, health care and advanced manufacturing. The department will also continue to fund the apprenticeship course Congress has specifically appropriated for the program.
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