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McGarvey’s Apprenticeship Support is a Fool's Errand

While Trump claims to expand Apprenticeship Programs, it’s grossly underfunded and the Trades are silent

Kris LaGrange's picture
Nov 20, 2017

Since the campaign, Trump has talked up the idea of expanding Apprentice Programs as an avenue for job growth and higher wages. This push, along with his promises of major infrastructure spending, has led many Building Trades Unions to support Trump and his policies, even as this support is leading to the watering down of the programs they are fighting for.

Last week was apprenticeship week and the Department of Labor spent the week touting the importance of Apprenticeships. Over the last few decades, Apprenticeships and trade work has gotten a bad name and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is trying to change that by highlighting the many of the positives of Apprenticeships. The North American Building Trades have been in lock step with Trump’s Labor Department on this, saying that they are very excited for Acosta’s commitment to Apprenticeships.

While Acosta may be genuine in his push for more Apprenticeships, it seems his party is not. In Trump’s proposed budget, funding for the Department of Labor is slashed by 20%. Revised budget plans from both the House and the Senate, only increase funding slightly, still leaving the department with billions less in funding. The House budget bill also cuts funding for the Employment Training Administration by $1.5 Billion.

While there are some union leaders on the apprenticeship taskforce, the taskforce also includes the CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). As UCOMM previously reported, ABC has worked to water down Apprenticeship standards across the country. Their form of Apprenticeships requires less training time than Union Apprenticeships. ABC has even actively fought against Apprenticeship training requirements in places like New York City.

With less funding and committee members pushing for weaker Apprenticeship requirements, the Building Trades are supporting a watered-down approach to Apprenticeships. People like Acosta like to refer to Apprenticeships as the other four-year degree and right now the programs that Building Trades Unions have created are top of the line, the Ivy league programs, but with less funding and looser requirements for passage, they run the risk of turning these programs into Trump University.  

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