President Donald Trump’s push to expand apprenticeship opportunities is being met with support from business leaders who are now pledging to take part.
Trump has put working class issues at the forefront of his agenda. He signed an executive order Thursday aimed at increasing the number apprenticeship programs. The president hopes to address the skills gap by ensuring people are being trained for jobs that exist.
While there are plenty of jobs available, the challenge has been a significant divide between the skills companies need and the training and experience workers have. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that the country has six million job openings.
The Business Roundtable (BRT), a coalition of business leaders, released a list of business presidents who support the initiative. The almost two hundred names listed have promised to expand their own apprenticeship programs.
“Business Roundtable members take our responsibly as CEOs seriously to help ensure American workers can succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow,” BRT noted in a release. “We applaud the President’s commitment to industry-driven apprenticeships as a powerful tool to build the skilled workforce prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.”
General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, and many other top business presidents pledged their support. The list included 180 business presidents total. Verizon, Oracle Corporation, General Motors, and Accenture were also listed.
Industry groups have also come out in support of the push to expand apprenticeship opportunities. The National Restaurant Association noted more apprenticeship programs will help workers get useful skills. The International Franchise Association also applauded the move.
Trump signed the executive order after hosting a private roundtable discussion with a group of governors. The meeting reportedly focused on the need for better job training and more apprenticeship programs. The executive order is designed to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities by rolling back restrictions.
The labor skills gap has been getting increasingly more attention. Nevertheless, how to address the skills gap, and whether it’s even a real problem, have been points of debate. Joshua Wright of Economic Modeling Specialists says the concern is real, but there are nuances to consider.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily a misconception,” Wright tells InsideSources. “It really depends on where you’re at, what the local economy specializes in, and the key industries in a specific metro area, or group of counties. That drives the workforce needs and what type of gaps, if there are any there.”
The Department of Labor is now responsible for drafting rules so the executive order can be initiated. The rulemaking process involves several steps that can become lengthy at times. The proposed rules should allow companies, unions, and industry groups alike to more easily create their own apprenticeship programs.
Trump has received criticism for supposedly undercutting job training and the workforce elsewhere. His proposed budget May 23 would cut some established federal job training programs significantly. CNN and a number of other news outlets highlighted the apparent inconsistency.
Labor unions have been particularly critical of the president. Unions have condemned him for undermining worker rights and protections while rolling back regulations in an attempt to spur economic growth. Unions generally support efforts to improve job training but have not said much on what the president is planning.