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VIDEO: Blunt on Apprenticeships: “We Need to Promote Job Skills and Training that Fit the Jobs of the Future”

June 22, 2018

WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), spoke on the Senate floor to underscore the important role apprenticeship programs play in preparing workers for in-demand, good-paying jobs.  The FY2018 government funding bill that was signed into law in March included more than a 50 percent increase for apprenticeship programs. The LHHS subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee will consider the FY2019 bill next week.

Following are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:

“According to the survey of the Associated General Contractors reached this year, more than three-fourths of the people who responded to that survey said they couldn't find, they were having a hard time finding the qualified workers they need. In a bill that we’ll mark up in the Appropriations Committee next week, the committee that I chair, the Labor and Education and Health and Human Services Committee, we're going to continue to build this apprenticeship program, that in a bipartisan way the congress has embraced, the president likes this program. …

“We have had a 53 percent increase in just the last couple of years of the training money available for apprenticeships. Now, apprenticeships 200 years ago were the way everybody learned to do whatever it was they learned to do. If you were going to learn a skill, you were going to learn it as an apprentice. This is a program where it really gives the employers the tools they need to develop the workforce they would like to have. … It gives workers an opportunity to be earning a salary while they're learning the skills, and does that in a way that makes it possible for employers to do a couple of things at the same time. Prepare their own workforce, get people ready for work, and put people in a situation where they are suddenly showing up for work every day, learning skills while they are there, learning a lot of things that get you ready for full-time employment, and for the nine out of ten Americans who complete apprenticeship training programs that get a job, and again, nine out of ten people that go through those programs get a job, and the average starting salary for those jobs is $60,000 a year. These are not minimum wage jobs, these are significant opportunities to start at that level and work your way up. …

“I hear from businesses, I hear from unions in Missouri all the time, about the need for skilled workers and about the long-term careers that can result from meeting that skilled worker need. As we continue to focus on training in our 21st Century workforce, we know there are a lot of challenges that we have to address. Next week, our committee will consider, in our bill, we're going to dedicate resources for programs geared toward better preparing and training the next generation of workers as one of our top priorities. …

“I'm pleased that the Trump administration has also taken important steps to strengthen apprenticeship programs. Last year, the administration issued an executive order that doubled the amount the federal government spent on apprenticeship programs. In addition, the order shifted the role of developing government-funded workforce development programs from the Labor Department to private sector entities, like trade groups, like unions, like businesses, who frankly are much more likely to produce the workforce they know they need, than a government program is much more likely to produce the workforce that we might have needed a couple of years ago. This is a program that’s working. With an economy growing as fast as ours, we need to promote job skills and training that fit the jobs of the future. We need to ensure opportunities are available for workers in rural areas and urban areas and suburban areas alike. It's critical that we make sure that government programs, that federal programs are designed to continue to take advantage of this model that's working.”

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