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Our view: Apprenticeships can help provide key skills

There needs to be stronger connections between what American students learn and what the job market has to offer

Published on September 5, 2017 12:01AM


President Donald Trump can do no wrong in the eyes of his core supporters and no right for a majority of other Americans, so it’s noteworthy to see that his executive order expanding “industry-recognized” apprenticeships is meeting with approval across unusual political fault lines.

There is a risk doubling federal funding for apprenticeships to $200 million will come at the expense of other job training programs — it would be shameful to see cuts to things like the Tongue Point Job Corps Center. But there is no question that apprenticeships are a key way of providing workers with the specific skills that employers want.

An Aug. 28 article by the Brookings Institution (tinyurl.com/Brookings-Apprenticeships) reviews the good case that can be made for the president’s proposal. In essence, there needs to be stronger connections between what American students learn and what the job market has to offer. The U.S. lags far behind other global economies in supporting apprenticeships, with those we do offer heavily concentrated in the building trades.

Under the Trump administration’s plan, blueprints for apprentice programs will be designed by employers, unions, educators and others so that nationwide training is tailored to on-the-ground needs. Industry is assured that successful apprentices can get to work and be immediately productive.

“Barriers of ignorance, snobbery, and special interests stand in the way of expanded apprenticeships. But President Trump has created the opportunity for real progress in this area. Let’s see if it can be seized,” Brookings said.

This seems to be an initiative we all can root for.



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