President Donald Trump unveiled an apprenticeship initiative Thursday, calling on America’s private sector to partner with his administration on the ambitious goal.
The initiative is a part of what the White House is calling “Workforce Development Week,” a theme that has been lost in a news cycle dominated by Russia and the Wednesday shooting in Alexandria. The president originally planned to discuss apprenticeships Wednesday, but changed his schedule due to the tragic shooting.
“I’ll be signing an executive order to expand apprenticeships and vocational training to help all Americans find a rewarding career, earn a great living, and support themselves and their families,” Trump said from the White House Thursday.
“We will be removing federal restrictions that have prevented many different industries from creating apprenticeship programs,” the president continued. “We have regulations on top of regulations, and in history, no one has gotten rid of so many regulations as the Trump administration.”
Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has helped the president unveil the apprenticeship plan, touting the initiative as part of a larger effort to close the nation’s skills gap.
“Americans want to work, American companies want to hire,” Acosta said Monday. “The issue is a mismatch between available jobs and prospective employee’s jobs skills,” he said, citing a survey where 95 percent of executives reported problems finding qualified workers.
The president argued that apprenticeships can be a better alternative than a traditional college education for some kids.
“We’re empowering these companies, these unions, industry groups, federal agencies, to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens,” Trump said while flanked by apprenticeship participants.
“Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four year degrees,” Trump said. “Instead, apprentices earn while they learn.”
The president also talked about the number of companies reinvesting in America. “We have a lot of companies moving in, a lot of plants are going to be built. A lot of plants are being expanded,” he said. “And big ones are going to be announced very soon, we’re gonna hear some very big names that I can’t tell you about now,” he explained, saying that he wants to wait until they “sign the dotted line.”
Trump’s focus on apprenticeship programs is part of of his larger mantra of “America first.” He said that the program is designed to help American workers. “I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the American worker,” Trump said. “And the American worker sees what’s happening in Michigan and in Ohio and in a lot of places that we’ve had a huge impact on.”
Private industry commended the president for his initiative.
“The restaurant industry fully supports the President’s Executive Order and thanks the President and Secretary Acosta for their continued focus on apprenticeships, a proven recognized path to full and rewarding careers,” Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon, and First Daughter Ivanka Trump were also present at the press conference.
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