07.26.18

Alexander, Administration Exploring Ways to Modernize Apprenticeships for American Workers

Says there are growing industries that have not historically harnessed the potential of apprenticeships and are facing a shortage of skilled workers

“The hope is that with a modernized approach to apprenticeships, industries that weren’t around when Paul Revere was training to be a silversmith or even when Elvis was learning to be an electrician, would be able to start apprenticeship programs.”

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2018 — Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that a modernized approach to apprenticeships may help more industries use apprenticeships to train skilled workers.

“In this booming economy, there are 6.6 million job openings, and what I hear most from Tennessee employers is that they need more skilled workers,” Alexander said. “The requirements for a federally registered apprenticeship may not meet the needs of every workforce. There are growing industries, such as health, finance, and information technology, that have not historically harnessed the potential of apprenticeships and are facing a shortage of skilled workers. The hope is that with a modernized approach to apprenticeships, industries that weren’t around when Paul Revere was training to be a silversmith or even when Elvis was learning to be an electrician, would be able to start apprenticeship programs.”

Alexander continued: “In 2017, the United States had approximately 533,000 apprentices in federally-registered apprenticeship programs, training to become electricians, carpenters, craft laborers, or plumbers. Today, federally-registered apprenticeships are especially concentrated in industries like construction and manufacturing, and work well for many employers and workers.”

“Last June, as part of the Administration’s effort to train more skilled workers, President Trump issued an executive order directing Department of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to identify ways to expand apprenticeships. Secretary Acosta assembled a task force that highlighted concerns with the burdens of the registered apprenticeship programs’ requirements, which may discourage businesses from creating a registered apprenticeship program. The Task Force recommended the Administration promote high-quality ‘Industry Recognized Apprenticeships.’”

Alexander made his remarks today at a committee hearing to explore how to modernize apprenticeships to expand opportunities for American workers.

On Monday, the Senate passed an update to the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, a nearly $1.2 billion federal program of grants to states that help fund CTE programs at high schools and community colleges. The House passed the Perkins CTE Act on Wednesday and it is now headed to the president’s desk. Alexander is a sponsor of the Perkins CTE Act and worked with Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Ivanka Trump to pass the legislation.

See Alexander’s full prepared remarks here.

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