Secretary Acosta Announces Workforce Development Initiative as President Signs Executive Order on Apprenticeships

June 16, 2017

DOL Secretary Alex Acosta promised this week to "expand apprentice[ships] across most, if not all, industries," as President Trump signed an executive order intended to grant employers more flexibility in designing and implementing apprenticeship and vocational training programs.  Secretary Acosta, who will address HR Policy members at our September 6-7 Washington Policy Conference, noted the initiative will be focused on closing the skills gap, which is "a particular challenge in some of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy—healthcare and information technology.  And it also persists in some of the more traditional sectors of the economy."  The executive order is a first step toward the Administration's goal of expanding access to apprenticeship programs by removing regulations that hinder employers and third parties from crafting programs that fit their needs.  In a press conference, President Trump said the directive will result in the removal of "federal restrictions that have prevented many different industries from creating apprenticeship programs."  Specifically, the Executive Order calls for:

  • The creation of an inter-agency Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion; 
  • An Excellence in Apprenticeship Program to commend efforts to institute apprenticeship programs; 
  • Improving the effectiveness of existing federal workforce development programs; 
  • Promoting "industry recognized apprenticeships" created by third parties such as trade groups, companies, non-profits, and unions; and 
  • Promoting apprenticeship programs at colleges and universities.