College & Workforce Readiness

Trump Executive Order Ramps Up Apprenticeship Programs

By Catherine Gewertz — June 15, 2017 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

UPDATED President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order Thursday that aims to create a new channel of approval for apprenticeships. He is calling on Congress to commit $100 million in new money to the initiative, and expand the allowable uses of student financial aid so students can use the support for “earn while you learn” programs.

Signing the order at the White House, Trump said he wants to “remove restrictions that have prevented industries from creating apprenticeship programs. Standing at his elbow as he signed were North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx, the chairwoman of the House education committee, and Bobby Scott of Virginia, its ranking Democrat.

“We’re empowering these companies, these unions, industry groups, federal agencies, to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens,” he said. “Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of four-year college degrees. Instead, apprentices earn while they learn.”

Trump’s top aides have made it clear that he envisions a far wider reach for apprenticeships than currently exists. Earlier this week, the president said he would like to see those paid positions at “every high school in America.”

In a briefing for reporters before the signing, two senior White House officials said that the president’s order will create a new way of getting apprenticeships approved. Currently, half of the country’s 1 million apprenticeships are “registered” with the U.S. Department of Labor. That process requires programs to meet standards of quality, ensuring that students are paid more than minimum wage, and that they receive nationally recognized industry credentials when they complete their programs.

Trump’s order directs Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta to develop new regulations that would create an additional channel of access to that system. It would allow trade associations, labor unions, industry, and third-party training providers to create their own standards and criteria for apprenticeship programs, and then seek expedited approval from the Department of Labor. That system, they said, would preserve the registration process’ quality-control mechanisms while allowing experts in the field to shape programs.

Officials said the work would be done with a strategic use of available funds from the ApprenticeshipUSA program, which was funded at $90 million this year, and for which Trump has requested the same amount next year. But they also said Trump’s order would call on Congress to provide $100 million more for workforce development.

The additional approval channel would not eliminate the Department of Labor from the process, the White House officials said, but rather create a dialog between Labor officials and entities with on-the-ground expertise. The Department of Labor, they said, would still judge and approve the programs.

Trump is ordering a review of the existing 43 workforce-development programs, which sprawl across 13 federal agencies and spend $16.7 billion annually. He will also create a task force to advise him on how to expand apprenticeship programs, the officials said.

The president wants students to be able to use federal student aid for a wide variety of “earn while you learn” programs, including apprenticeships, the White House officials said.

UPDATED Currently, federal student aid can be used only in programs eligible under federal law: an institution of higher education, a proprietary institution of higher education, or a postsecondary vocational institution, according to Karen McCarthy, the director of policy analysis for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Programs must lead to an associate, bachelor’s, professional, or graduate degree, last for at least two years and provide full credit toward a bachelor’s degree, or last at least one academic year and culminate in a certificate or other “nondegree recognized credential” that “prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

Expanding the use of federal student aid beyond that legal definition “would be a major shift in how the program operates, and would need Congressional action,” McCarthy wrote in an email.

The idea could face opposition, especially in the wake of revelations about for-profit colleges that accepted federal financial aid and left their graduates unable to earn enough to pay off huge student debts.

The White House officials emphasized that the president’s apprenticeship program isn’t a dig at university education. Rather, it’s about choice: offering multiple pathways to education and good jobs.

UPDATED Trump’s desire to pare back regulations that stand in the way of creating new apprenticeships worried some lawmakers. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, the top Democrat on the appropriations panel that oversees education spending, said in a statement that Thursday’s executive order could “open the floodgates for federal dollars to flow to so-called ‘job training programs’ like Trump University.”

“We cannot allow the American people to be scammed by organizations that rake in million dollars in profit from vulnerable students and give them a shoddy education in return,” she said. “These students deserve education and training that will give them the resources and tools to succeed, and these bogus organizations will not do that.”

Photo: President Donald Trump displays an executive order signed at the White House during Thursday’s Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives event. He is joined by, from second from left, daughter Ivanka Trump, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. —Susan Walsh/AP


Get High School & Beyond posts delivered to your inbox as soon as they’re published. Sign up here. Also, for news and analysis of issues that shape adolescents’ preparation for work and higher education.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion Can College-Going Be Less Risky Without Being 'Free'?
Rick Hess speaks with Peter Samuelson, president of Ardeo Education Solutions, about Ardeo's approach to make paying for college less risky.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
Marchmeena29/iStock/Getty