July | August 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

President Trump Signs Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships

By Leslie Haymon, policy analyst, CSG Washington, D.C., office, and Eunice Sohn, policy intern, CSG Washington, D.C., office
On June 15, President Donald Trump signed an executive order expanding skill development and apprenticeship programs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 6 million vacant, good-paying jobs in the United States. This order aims to fill the 350,000 manufacturing jobs currently available. The order also addresses the “skills gap” by promoting the development of skills pertinent to currently unfilled jobs.
“Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four-year college degrees,” Trump said in June.
The executive order promotes the development of apprenticeship programs by third parties and increases flexibility for those programs. The order, which is a part of the administration’s anti-regulatory agenda, provides greater autonomy for industry groups, companies and agencies than before.
The executive order also establishes the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion to propose effective strategies for the apprenticeship programs. Additionally, federal agencies administering workforce development programs must submit an evaluation and recommendations for their programs that promote skill development and workplace readiness. These provisions are meant to increase accountability and eliminate ineffective programs.
Despite the favorable prospects for workforce development programs, there are concerns about how they will be funded. The Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal retains the $90 million to fund existing apprenticeship programs appropriated in fiscal 2017. The Labor Department faces a 19.8 percent budget decrease, including a $168 million cut in career and technical education grants to states. Even though Trump plans to redirect $100 million of federal job training money for the programs, the proposed cuts contradict the administration’s stated interest in apprenticeships.
As states continue to prioritize economic recovery, the expansion of skill development and apprenticeship programs could offer a valuable opportunity for states. The executive order acts as a forerunner to integrate apprenticeships as part of a state’s broader workforce and economic development strategy. Should states decide to expand skill development programs and promote apprenticeships, this executive order might incentivize citizens to take a viable alternative path.
Recently, several states have taken up the responsibility to promote apprenticeships. Some methods that states have utilized for the expansion include legislation, state funds, pre-apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and financial incentives.

Apprenticeship Legislation
On June 27, 2017, Connecticut passed SB353, establishing an apprentice, journeymen and contractor working group. Through this bill, the working group seeks to provide recommendations for and resolve issues stemming from the arbitrary hiring ratio.
Minnesota passed HF3172  in 2014, which created the PIPELINE Project—Private Investment, Public Education, Labor and Industry Experience. Inspired by Germany’s dual training system, this project develops career pathways by encouraging industry partners to invest in the training infrastructure and employees’ educations. The success of the project has prompted the Minnesota Legislature to introduce HF2227/SF1846, which aims at strengthening the PIPELINE project and further expanding dual training and apprenticeship programs.
“Registered Apprenticeships have been in existence in Minnesota since 1939, but it’s been primarily in the construction trades for all those years,” said John Aiken, director of apprenticeships at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. “It’s really an exciting time where we are partnering with our friends at (Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, or DEED) and the U.S. Department of Labor in expanding apprenticeships into new areas like manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and health care.”
State Funds for Apprenticeships
Direct state investment is the most straightforward way to support apprenticeship programs. Iowa’s HF2460 tripled annual appropriations to $3 million for apprenticeship programs in 2014. The appropriations bill has helped Iowa in the past years to stay on track to meet the five-year goal of doubling its registered apprentices by 2019.
Connecticut further established a $7.8 million Manufacturing Innovation Fund Apprenticeship Program in 2015. The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund total authorization is $60 million through fiscal year 2017.
“Larger corporations are contracting more and more work out to the supply chain of small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. Therefore, the responsibility of training large numbers of workers to fill high-skilled positions is shifting to these smaller companies,” said Catherine Smith, commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. “This new program will help deliver a pipeline of talent to supply chain companies.”
California’s enacted 2017-18 budget includes a $54.9 million ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund and an approximately $13 million Employment Training Fund for apprenticeship programs. The funds expand on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs and strengthen alliances with industry partners.
Youth/Pre-Apprenticeship Programs
Youth and pre-apprenticeship programs are another effective measure that promotes skill development. While youth apprenticeships target young people, pre-apprenticeships are open to all. Both programs teach participants necessary skills to succeed in the workplace and act as a stepping stone for apprentices to enter into an industry of their choice. Several states have these programs in place to better equip young people and adults for a smooth transition into a career. Some examples include Colorado’s CareerWise pilot project, Washington state’s Career Connect Washington initiative, Wisconsin’s youth apprenticeship program and Kentucky’s TRACK program. All of these programs connect participants with opportunities that would prepare them for high-demand, high-wage jobs.
“With apprenticeship opportunities you can make the same kind of money (as a college graduate), if not more—in some cases, several times more—and certainly finish up with no (student) debt,” said Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey.
Growth in Apprenticeships in States
The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration releases annual national and state data on the Registered Apprenticeship program. The data help measure the success of each state’s efforts to expand apprenticeships.
Several states—Massachusetts with the highest growth rate of 207 percent in Registered Apprenticeship programs—showed an increase in the number of active Registered Apprenticeship programs since fiscal year 2015. South Carolina, ranked in the top 10 amongst these 31 states, witnessed a growth of 8.6 percent in programs after employing the Apprenticeship Carolina program, which assists employers through tax credits and providing apprenticeship consultants at no cost.  
Examining the national apprenticeship data, it is clear the current administration and the states are pushing for more apprenticeship programs. The number of active apprentices has increased by 14 percent since fiscal year 2008 with 505,371 active apprentices in fiscal year 2016. The Department of Labor also reports an additional 429 active Registered Apprenticeship programs since last year. More information can be found on the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s website.