AFT thanks Trump for apprenticeship programs…with a caveat
Stephon Johnson | 6/22/2017, 11:35 a.m.
Last week in Wisconsin, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that he said would allow industries to create more apprenticeship programs.
Trump’s plan for the program will allegedly cost $200 million and take some power away from the Department of Labor. The Trump administration wants to fill the 6 million vacant jobs in the United Stated that are vacant because the labor force does not have the required skills for these positions.
“We will be removing federal restrictions that have prevented many different industries from creating apprenticeship programs,” said Trump before signing the executive order. “We have regulations on top of regulations. And in history, nobody has gotten rid of so many regulations as the Trump administration. And that’s one of the reasons that you see the jobs and the companies all kicking in so strongly. I think some very good numbers are going to be announced, by the way, in the very near future as to GDP.
“So we’re empowering these companies, these unions, industry groups, federal agencies to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens,” Trump continued. “Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four-year college degrees. Instead, apprentices earn while they learn—which is an expression we’re using: Earn while you learn.”
But some unions, such as the American Federation of Teachers, reminded the public that Trump’s federal budget plan would cut funding for worker training by 40 percent (from $2.7 billion to $1.6 billion).
AFT Local 212 President Dr. Lisa Conley called Trump’s plan “sheer hypocrisy” and said in a statement that he and Wisconsin State Gov. Scott Walker used Waukesha County Technical College and its students for “a photo-op while pushing policies that undermine apprenticeship and skilled trades training.”
AFT National President Randi Weingarten said that she liked the concept of more apprenticeships but remains skeptical of how that would look under Trump.
“We believe strongly in apprenticeship programs,” said Weingarten in an emailed statement. “They give Americans the opportunity to develop the technical skills and hands-on knowledge they need for the good jobs of today and tomorrow. While we don’t know the contours or details of this order, we are ready to work with anyone, including this administration, to ensure apprenticeship programs—like the ones the building trades have modeled—are high-quality and prevent bad actors from preying on students, and that real investments are made in career and technical education in high schools and community colleges.”