The bad news: our national skills gap has resulted in more than seven million unfilled jobs. The good news: apprenticeships offer a pathway to filling these positions.
In an Education and Labor Committee hearing this week, members heard from Mr. John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training in the Department of Labor, that registered and innovative-employer led apprenticeships are helping prepare Americans to enter the workforce, close the skills gap, and fill the seven million jobs available across the country.
Unfortunately, too many believe the false narrative that college is the only pathway to a good job. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) asked Mr. Pallasch how we can reverse this misconception.
Mr. Pallasch said: “I think hearings such as this, where we shine a spotlight on the success of the apprenticeship model and what it means, and when we talk about 94 percent retention rate and we talk about $70,000 starting salary. Those are real-world numbers, and that does not include the assumption of any debt, so individuals who are entering the workforce through an apprenticeship program, $70,000 debt-free. We need to make sure that individuals understand that an apprenticeship is a viable option, that it is one of those multiple pathways that we talk about.”
Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Republican Leader of the Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee, pointed out that, “Nothing can prepare a student quite like on-the-job experience, and apprenticeships are a tried-and-true method to help students enter the workforce with the skills they need to succeed and achieve the American Dream.”
Thanks to the Trump administration, the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion is working on solving the issues that put up barriers to entry and bureaucratic red tape for those who wish to develop apprenticeship programs. Specifically, the task force recommended giving businesses greater flexibility in their apprenticeship programs to meet the varying needs of different industries. After all, employers know what skills their employees need to excel in the workplace.
Mr. Pallasch explained the Trump administration is working on “… expanding access to high-quality earn and learn opportunities across the country. Growing the American workforce and providing individuals with the skills needed for the next-generation economy can only be accomplished when we all work together.”
Expanding apprenticeships will increase pathways to earn-and learn opportunities, help close the national skills gap, and set American workers up with the skills needed to achieve lifelong success.