ICYMI: President Trump Highlights Wisconsin Success Building Workforce with Visit to Technical College
June 15, 2017

President, Governor Walker discuss importance of apprenticeships, education to workforce development

[Madison, Wis.] – In case you missed you it, President Donald Trump joined Governor Scott Walker at Waukesha County Technical College for a workforce roundtable to discuss the governor’s bold reforms that are building Wisconsin’s workforce.

You can read the story here, or find excerpts below:

Trump highlights technical schools in Wisconsin
Daniel Gaitan
Kenosha News
June 13, 2017

WAUKESHA — The man who parlayed a run on TV’s “The Apprentice” into a winning presidential campaign said Tuesday the nation needs a stronger system of apprenticeship to match workers with millions of open jobs. …

Joined in Wisconsin by daughter Ivanka Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Trump described his push to get private companies and universities to pair up and pay the cost of such arrangements.

“It’s called earn while you learn,” Trump said of his initiative at Waukesha County Technical College.

The president toured a classroom full of tool-and-die machines that simulated a factory floor, accompanied by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. …

Gateway sees demand

Kate Walker, director of operations at Gateway Technical College’s Business and Workforce Solutions division, said Trump addressed the nation’s skilled worker gap.

“We’re happy to hear him speaking on our behalf and bringing light to something so important to us: the skills gap,” Walker said. “As the boomers are starting to retire, that knowledge transfer hasn’t happened. For a while, people weren’t attracted to going into the trades.” …

“I think people haven’t really thought about trades for a while,” Walker said. “We’re trying to let them know that it’s available to them and a nice way to go to school and earn money while they’re in school.”

On Tuesday, a signing ceremony and open house will be held for a new mechatronics apprentice program at Gateway’s S.C. Johnson iMET Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd., in Sturtevant. Employers in need of workers with this skill set are being encouraged to attend the event.

“We hope to do more outreach at middle schools and high schools in the coming year,” Walker said.

Attitude change needed

The Trump administration has said there’s a need that can be met with a change in the American attitude toward vocational education and apprenticeships. A November 2016 report by former President Barack Obama’s Commerce Department found that “apprenticeships are not fully understood in the United States, especially by employers, who tend to use apprentices for a few, hard-to-fill positions” but not as widely as they could.

The shortages for specifically trained workers cut across multiple job sectors beyond Trump’s beloved construction trades. There are shortages in agriculture, manufacturing, information technology and health care.

Participants in some apprentice programs get on-the-job training while going to school, sometimes with companies footing the bill. …

Few apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are few and far between. Of the 146 million jobs in the United States, about one-third of 1 percent — or slightly more than a half-million — were filled by active apprentices in 2016. Filling millions more jobs through apprenticeships would require the government to massively ramp up its efforts. “Scaling is the big issue,” said Robert Lerman, a fellow at the Urban Institute.

Another complication: Only about half of apprentices finish their multi-year programs, Lerman said. Fewer than 50,000 people — including 11,104 in the military — completed their apprenticeships in 2016, according to Labor Department. …