President Donald Trump signed an executive order to increase the number apprenticeship programs Thursday while meeting with several governors at the White House.
Trump has focused his presidency on helping workers struggling in a lackluster economy. The widening labor skills gap is one issue the administration is now looking to address. Apprenticeship and job training programs have been viewed by some as a potential way to address the problem.
Trump has spoken about bolstering apprenticeships several times in his young presidency. He held a roundtable discussion with governors and Cabinet members in a closed meeting Thursday. The president followed the meeting by signing an executive order designed to increase the number of apprenticeship programs.
“We’re here today to celebrate the dignity of work,” Trump said before signing the order. “In just a few minutes I’ll sign an executive order to expand apprenticeship and vocational training, to help all Americans find a rewarding career, earn a great living, support themselves and their families, and love going to work in the morning.”
Trumps says the goal is to rollback federal restrictions that have prevented some industries from creating apprenticeship programs. The executive order directs the labor department to draft rules which will allow companies, unions, and industry groups to create their own programs.
“So we’re empowering these companies, unions, industry groups, and federal agencies to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens,” Trump said. “Apprenticeships place students into great jobs, without the crippling debt of traditional four-year college degrees.”
Trump seems to be sending some mixed signals when it comes to job training. He has promised to promote job training since the campaign, but some actions seem to run counter to the message. His proposed budget May 23 would cut some established federal job training programs significantly.
Trump was joined by a number of governors and cabinet members including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Both Walker and the president met earlier in the week to discuss workforce issues. Walker is a controversial figure on labor issues as a result of his efforts to limit union power in his state.
Industry leaders have offered praise for Trump’s efforts to support job training. “The restaurant industry fully supports the President’s Executive Order and thanks the President and Secretary Acosta for their continued focus on apprenticeships – a proven recognized path to full and rewarding careers.” National Restaurant Association President Dawn Sweeney said in a statement provided to InsideSources.
Trump was originally expected to unveil his new initiative after a meeting at the Labor Department Wednesday. The meeting, however, was canceled due to Republican lawmakers being shot at during a congressional baseball game practice. The president took a moment to reflect on the incident and wish Rep. Steve Scalise a quick recovery from his gunshot wound.
President Trump also thanked his daughter and assistant Ivanka Trump for spearheading the initiative. Ivanka Trump has been an adamant proponent for workforce issues like paid family leave.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was among those who joined the signing. His department is now tasked with drafting the new rules. The Labor Department will also be responsible for approving the apprenticeship programs once they start getting proposed.