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Apprenticeships can lower unemployment, Trump official says

A former economic advisor to President Donald Trump wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the solution to unemployment lies in apprenticeships, not college.

Paul Winfree, a former director with Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, argued that the federal government should return to the prior administration’s policies on apprenticeships to help grow job opportunities. Winfree, now at the Heritage Foundation, wrote the essay with his think tank colleague Rachel Greszler, a researcher on labor issues.

The pair wrote on Tuesday:

Employers are addressing gaps by investing in practical workforce education. When Mazda Toyota Manufacturing established a plant in Huntsville, Ala., the company educated thousands of new workers in advanced automotive manufacturing. Bank of America has a career development program called Pathways. Tech companies such as Google, Amazon and IBM have created their own certificate and training programs for employees to acquire high-demand skills.

Younger workers in particular would benefit from more apprenticeship opportunities – and there’s plenty of room to grow.

Harvard University researchers, the pair wrote, “found that the number of occupations commonly filled through these programs could nearly triple (to 74 from 27)” and “the number of job openings filled could expand eightfold (to 3.2 million).” Furthermore, “the occupations ripe for apprenticeship expansion would offer 20% higher wages than traditional apprenticeship occupations.”

Trump successfully expanded opportunities, but President Joe Biden undid that progress after taking office, according to Winfree and Greszler.

The pair wrote:

The Trump administration recognized this potential and in March 2017 initiated Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, which created a new pathway for more flexible, industry-driven alternatives. This quickly led to more than 130 new apprenticeship programs predominantly in high-demand fields with worker shortages, such as nursing. Shortly after coming into office, however, President Biden canceled the initiative and directed the Labor Department to revert to the government-monopoly apprenticeship model that has failed to expand beyond male-dominated manual-labor trades.

The essay urged lawmakers to restart this successful initiative.

Read the essay.

IMAGE: FOTO Eak/Shutterstock

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