The Trump administration is an enthusiastic proponent of expanding the apprenticeship concept beyond the construction and building trades. In March, the Labor Department announced Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs to foster apprenticeships in sectors like technology and health care. As a first step, it has called on businesses to form standards-setting bodies for apprenticeships in their industries.
Ivanka Trump, a chair of the administration’s American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, is an advocate for broadening apprenticeship opportunities and making Pell grants, for low-income students, available for noncollege skills training and job certification programs.
The administration sees the government’s role as working with the business community and ensuring that the public system of state and local work force boards, which receive federal funding, are attuned to hiring demands of the private sector.
“Re-skilling very much needs to come from business,” said John Pallasch, assistant secretary for employment and training at the Labor Department.
Companies, labor experts say, will need to increase their investment in enhancing the skills of their own workers. Analysts say the overall trend has been stagnant or declining for years.
The companies that have increased spending recognize training as a competitive necessity. Exelon, a utility holding company, whose operations serve 10 million customers in the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, decided it needed to make better use of all of the data streaming off its power generators and grid.
In 2018, Exelon began an in-house education program for its managers and engineers. The goal was to use data to cut costs, improve energy efficiency and curb pollution. By now, 1,200 Exelon employees have participated in the program for general knowledge, while more than 100 have gone on to acquire new technical skills.