Expanding Apprenticeships in America – Part 1


By Cotney Construction Law.

Article examines President Donald Trump’s executive order that is designed to create one million apprenticeship positions within the next two years.

There has been a lot of construction-related news recently with a proposed trillion dollar infrastructure bill in Washington and enforced tariffs on steel and aluminum. One consistent question being asked is will the United States be able to meet the labor demand to take on these massive domestic projects? As we have covered in past articles, there is a significant labor shortage in the construction industry. In fact, over half of the construction companies in America are having difficulty employing skilled workers.

In this two-part article, we will discuss President Donald Trump’s executive order that is designed to create one million apprenticeship positions within the next two years. In part two we will discuss the details of this executive order and how it may impact the future of the construction industry. Remember, if you are in need of a construction litigation attorney, please speak with us today.

The Need for Construction Labor

There are over 14 million workers that work within the construction sector. This is over 10 percent of the entire American workforce. In the next ten years, approximately 20 percent of these workers will retire and need to be replaced. Finding this next generation of workers will be a challenge considering most millennials prefer to attend a four-year university over a trade school.

Washington’s Proposal to Expand Apprenticeships

On June 15, 2017, President Donald Trump established an executive order designed to expand apprenticeships in America. As the executive order states, the policy was created to “provide more affordable pathways to secure, high paying jobs by promoting apprenticeship and effective workforce development programs.” Along with a goal of creating one million apprenticeships in the next two years, the executive order is designed to minimize or eliminate “taxpayer support for ineffective workforce development programs.”

The Purpose of the Plan

With higher education prices dramatically increasing and with many federal workforce development programs not effectively producing results, this executive order was created to promote a cost-effective educational option for many young workers that desire a lucrative career in a skills-related job. Ideally, this executive order would help reduce the number of young men and women that are in mounting debt due to student loans and also provide these young workers with “relevant workplace experiences and opportunities to develop skills that employers value.”

With millions of skilled workers in the construction industry set to retire within the next decade, it’s important for construction industry professionals to develop an effective solution to the labor demand problem. With many large construction companies struggling to discover young skilled workers and the manufacturing industry having over 300,000 job vacancies, it’s vital that we establish a new method of recruiting young people into the workforce.

Implementing Apprenticeships

With little confidence in several federal work development programs, Trump’s executive order calls for creating apprenticeship programs in established third party sectors. These third-party entities include “trade and industry groups, companies, non-profit organizations, unions, and joint labor-management organizations.” According to the executive order, the Secretary of Labor shall govern these organizations that qualify to ensure that they are meeting requirements and to assist with effectively streamlining the apprenticeship process.

Promotional Funding of Apprenticeships

In order to promote apprenticeships, the executive order calls for the Secretary of Labor to allocate funding primarily towards high schools and four-year colleges along with community colleges. Ideally, the concept is to increase youth involvement in apprenticeships by offering apprenticeship opportunities “in sectors that do not currently have sufficient apprenticeship opportunities.” The executive order also calls for the Secretary of Education to implement apprenticeship programs into community colleges and also four-year universities’ “courses of study.”

Exploring Other Recruitment Avenues

Along with appropriately distributing the funding towards educational institutions that do not have apprenticeship opportunities, the executive order calls for expanding access to apprenticeships for young men and women outside of the education sector. This includes everyone from members of the United States military branches to persons not attending high school to current and formerly incarcerated people.

If you would like to speak to a construction attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Editor’s note: This article first published on Cotney Construction Law’s blog and can be viewed here.

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