Trump administration pushes apprenticeships as millions of jobs remain open

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - With job growth in the U.S. comes job openings. The Trump Administration finds there are not enough candidates to fill them. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is turning the focus to apprenticeships to get more Americans in the workforce. He says workforce development needs changing.

Secretary Alexander Acosta says apprenticeship programs have to be fostered at the local level, not driven from Washington.

“We want individuals to have career paths, not just jobs,” said Acosta.

There are around 6 million job openings in the United States. Secretary Acosta says the U.S. needs emphasize apprenticeship programs, pairing colleges with businesses, having students ready for professional life upon graduation.

“We need to combine education and workforce education so that individuals become lifelong learners and lifelong earners,” said Acosta.

He says it comes down to commitment from colleges. With a state like Nevada, which has a 5 percent unemployment rate, Secretary Acosta says it’s in the hands of Nevada schools to execute these partnerships.

“We’re here to introduce, to expedite, to assist. But ultimately for this to be successful it can’t be driven from Washington. It has to start at the local level,” said Acosta.

Others are skeptical of the effectiveness of apprenticeship programs. They say the programs can work in sectors like construction or engineering, but would not help in filling the most needed job openings.

“We would need to re envision what an apprenticeship is for it to be successful in the future,” said Brooks Holtom, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

He says it would take a change in mindset to create apprenticeships in sectors like health care, information technologies or data analytics. And Holtom says those are the sectors that need openings filled.

“I’m not sure that a program that is not focused on those high demand jobs is going to be all that helpful,” said Holtom.

The administration created a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, currently developing strategies to grow high-quality apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are paid, unlike some internships. They tie directly into what is being taught in the classroom, are longer term and almost always result in a job after graduation.

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