Trump Administration Encourages Apprenticeships

With traditional four-year colleges driving student loan debt up to a record high of $1.3 trillion and a purported “middle skills” gap, the Trump administration’s new executive order promotes paid apprenticeship programs so students can earn while they learn. Middle skills are trades like plumbing and welding that aren’t taught in four-year colleges or high school.

White House officials say this executive order will make it easier for private apprenticeship programs to be certified by the Labor Department. “Americans want to hire … but there's a skills gap between skills available and the skills that workers currently have," Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta explained after Pres. Trump signed the executive order. The executive order also calls for more accountability and enables some programs to consolidate for increased efficiency.

States have had a lot of success with funding apprenticeships. In 2014 Iowa governor Terry Branstad backed the Iowa Apprenticeship Act, which tripled funding for apprenticeship programs from $1 million to $3 million. These funds are used to subsidize training programs, making Iowa attractive for new businesses to bring jobs and economic growth. The state has large demand for a skilled workforce with Facebook, Microsoft, and Google taking advantage of the apprentice program and investing in data storage centers that bring billions of dollars of economic development to Iowa.

Students in Iowa’s program could start on a five-year electrician track earning $29,000 a year with benefits (during training) and expect large salary increases upon completion. In comparison, the average college student has $37,172 dollars in debt.

Iowa is just one of many states to take advantage of apprenticeships. In 2015, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy launched a two year “Manufacturing Innovation Fund Apprenticeship Program.” It provides wage subsidies and tuition reimbursement grants for companies in the area. The fund has made 1,911 jobs possible leveraging $73,448,084 in development – about 2.5 times the state’s investment in private and federal funding.

In fiscal year 2016, more than 206,000 individuals entered apprenticeship programs nationwide, equal to 41 percent of the 505,000 current apprentices. Apprenticeships will likely continue to grow as more support comes from the federal level for states to provide options in workforce development. 

Learn more about the number of apprentices in your state HERE.