The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 23, 2017

Trump appreciates union apprenticeship model

By The Building Tradesman

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the former host of the NBC reality show "The Apprentice," it appears as if President Donald Trump also appreciates the nation's apprenticeship system.

Last week the president vowed to make expansion of apprenticeship programs a key factor in his labor policy as he has also pushed for an infrastructure package that could have a price tag of up to $1 trillion. Of the more than 8,000 registered apprenticeship programs registered with the Labor Department, nearly half are in the construction industry, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The Trump Administration is committed to "supporting working families and creating a pathway for them to have robust and successful careers," said his daughter and assistant Ivanka, to the Journal. "There has been great focus on four-year higher education, and in reality, that is not the right path for everyone." The White House said the president's interest in construction apprenticeship stems from his background in the construction industry, which he mixed with frequently as a developer.

All of this is good news to North America's Building Trades Unions, which issued a statement praising Trump's stand.

“We commend the Administration for elevating and promoting the power of apprenticeship programs for workers and whole industries. As the preeminent organization involved in apprenticeship readiness and apprenticeship education and training today, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), its affiliated unions, and its contractor partners appreciate efforts by the Federal Government to increase utilization of apprenticeship education.

“Among construction apprentices in the U.S. today, 75 percent are trained in the joint apprentice training committee (JATC) system, which the Building Trades operate in cooperation with their contractor partners.  We know from over 100 years of experience that robust, labor-management commitment to and investment in craft training ensures the necessary and portable skills for workers to meet specific demands of employers and entire industries, while also providing the means for individuals and communities to gain a foothold on the ladder to the middle class.  

"Coupled with increased investments in infrastructure, apprenticeship can unleash broad, sustainable growth throughout the country while also allowing for career pathways for long under-served communities and those looking to embark on safe, highly skilled, productive and rewarding careers in the construction industry."

The Journal said the Trump Administration, like the Obama Administration, sees union apprenticeships as advantageous because they are self-funding, and can be expanded without much delay. Trump's budget proposal, which would make deep cuts just about everywhere else, would hold the line on funding for apprenticeship programs while reducing funding for Labor Department job training programs by nearly 40 percent. 

The Building Trades said there are some 1,650 training centers throughout the U.S., with 20,000 experienced and trained instructors. “U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta framed it correctly," the group said, "when he observed, ‘if you look into the Building Trades, there’s almost a billion (dollars) that’s spent every year, and that’s all private sector money.  The Building Trades have put together labor management organizations that jointly invest in these apprenticeship programs because they know both on the labor side and the management side that a skilled workforce is critical to the Building Trades.  And that’s how it’s worked for a number of years.’"