In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order expanding the role of apprenticeships in America, in hopes that it would help build the workforce in many skilled trades. In late June, the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced yet another expansion, but this time it left out the construction industry.
In the Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency states that, initially, they’ll only be providing additional benefits to “sectors without significant registered apprenticeship opportunities.” According to DOL numbers, the construction industry currently accounts for around 48% of all federally registered apprenticeships, averaging around 144,000 apprentices a year.
Despite the high percentage of federal apprenticeships, there is still a huge need in the construction industry to grow its workforce. The Associated General Contractors of America was quick to point that out.
“At a time when the vast majority of construction firms report having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire, it is deeply troubling that the Trump administration has opted to not include the sector in its new apprenticeship proposal. Instead of opening new routes for many thousands of Americans to embark on high-paying construction careers, the administration has instead opted to exclude one of the largest single sectors of the economy from what is supposed to be their signature workforce initiative, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, said in a press release.
He continued, “It is troubling that the administration says that the construction industry would not “initially” be eligible for consideration without providing any compelling rationale as to why the industry has been excluded. Furthermore, there is no enumeration of the factors that would be considered to permit construction training programs to be included in the apprenticeship expansion program in the future.”
If you’re currently searching for an apprenticeship in construction or another industry, the DOL has a pretty handy apprenticeship finder tool available online.
Full Apprenticeship Expansion Proposal: Apprenticeship Programs, Labor Standards for Registration, Amendment of Regulations | Federal Register