College & Workforce Readiness

Trump’s Push to Expand Apprenticeships: An Update of Sorts

By Catherine Gewertz — August 11, 2017 2 min read
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UPDATED Two months after President Donald Trump launched an initiative to expand apprenticeships, he met with advisers for an update, but it wasn’t apparent that the project has progressed very far beyond his signing of an executive order.

The president met Friday with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, among others, at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster Township, N.J. But the White House press corps was restricted to a side room where reporters could see who was in attendance, but couldn’t hear what advisers were telling Trump, according to a pool report.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and her husband, presidential adviser Jared Kushner, attended the meeting, as did Andrew P. Bremberg, the director of the domestic policy council.

A White House spokesperson said earlier Friday that the discussion “will highlight how the Trump administration can provide more Americans with access to affordable education and training that will equip them with relevant skills to help them secure good jobs. President Trump and his administration are committed to ensuring that American workers are prepared to thrive in the skill-intensive jobs of our modern economy.”

Trump signed an executive order in June, expanding channels to apprenticeships, and he asked Congress to commit to $200 million for the program.

UPDATED The only new tidbits of information that emerged Friday about the apprenticeship initiative that Trump hopes will reach every high school in the country came from Acosta, in a press briefing later with reporters. And they were minimal.

Acosta said that the administration is “evaluating hundreds of submissions” for membership on Trump’s new apprenticeship expansion task force, which he said will begin work in September.

Pressed for more details, Acosta said the defense department will soon begin evaluating how it can create a better “pipeline” into apprenticeships for people leaving military service, and that other agencies will soon begin similar evaluations of how they can better support the initiative.

DeVos also attended the briefing, but didn’t offer any specifics about how K-12 could expand apprenticeship programs. Instead, she said that education must “update not only what we are teaching but also how we are teaching” to reflect major shifts in the economy.

“Students need to be able to understand and know the multiple pathways they have to a productive adult life, starting as early as middle school,” DeVos said, according to a White House transcript. “And they need to have access to a variety of ways to learn these interesting subjects.”

In remarks before the workforce meeting, Trump touted recent job gains, stock market highs, and a 16-year low in unemployment, and then launched into three minutes of remarks, according to a White House pool report.

Turning to apprenticeships, Trump said:

We’re expanding pathways to success. So important. And apprenticeships are one of the many avenues that lead to the great jobs, completely debt-free. And who knows more about the word “apprentice” than Donald Trump? In fact, under the apprenticeship, you earn while you learn. So important and so great. And you love getting up in the morning and going to work, and a lot of great things involved here.

The president said his discussion Friday would touch on ways to expand apprenticeship opportunities for women and minorities, who have been “truly underpresentative, really, I guess you could say underrepresented” particularly in STEM fields, for decades.

For more on the Trump administration’s vision for career readiness, see:

Trump Makes a Big Push for High School Apprenticeships

Photo: President Donald Trump looks toward Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during a workforce/apprenticeship discussion at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. —Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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