President Trump pushes for more apprenticeships

The U.S. higher education system is the envy of the world, offering students degrees that open doors to a myriad of careers. But college isn’t the only way to get a good job. In fact, many employers lament they cannot find enough talent to fill high-salaried, high-tech positions that don’t require college diplomas.

That’s where apprenticeships come in. President Trump is launching a new push to encourage industry and schools to create more training programs where students earn a paycheck while learning those skills on the job and in classrooms.

When the president met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in March, he extolled the German apprenticeship system, widely regarded as the best in the world and as the reason why Germany enjoys a low youth unemployment rate.

“The German apprenticeship model is one of the proven programs to developing a highly skilled workforce,” the president said in March. “Germany has been amazing at this,” he said, thanking U.S. and German business leaders who had recently launched successful programs in the United States.

President Trump meeting with men in a factory setting (© AP Images)
President Trump tours a factory in Wisconsin that relies on apprenticeships, accompanied by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, second from left, and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, second from right. (© AP Images)

“America must not only teach but celebrate the skilled laborers that produce and maintain the world’s greatest machines, buildings, products and infrastructure, innovations that improve our quality of life, help keep us safe, and have the power to inspire awe and wonder,” President Trump said June 13, when he toured a model factory floor at Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Other countries that offer teens apprenticeships that lead to good jobs include Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Seventy percent of Swiss youth go the apprenticeship route, according to the Hechinger Report, an education newsletter.

The Global Apprenticeship Network — a coalition of such companies as IBM, Microsoft, UBS, Accenture and Telefonica; international organizations; and labor and business federations — has branches in nearly a dozen countries, including Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia, Malawi and Tanzania.

U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta told reporters June 12 that the administration’s program will be geared to all industries and all jobs, with an emphasis on fostering public-private partnerships between industry and educational institutions.