US apprenticeship expansion aims to plug skills gap

SOURCE: Rob Lambert/Unsplash
The Department of Labour will award $183.8 million in workforce development grants as well as $100 million in grants to promote apprenticeships.

By U2B Staff 

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Manufacturing organisations have applauded the US Department of Labour’s decision to give US$183 million in grants to colleges and their private-sector partners to support training for more than 85,000 apprentices.

The positions will be in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and information technology fields, in which there are currently millions of unfilled jobs.

US President Donald Trump has stressed the importance of apprenticeships in plugging these gaps in vital industries. According to a 2018 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the US manufacturing industry is looking at a potential shortage of 2.4 million workers in the next decade.

The health industry is also buckling under the pressure of short staffing, with an estimated 2.3 million new workers required by 2026 in order to adequately take care of the country’s aging population.


A shortage of tech talent is also having an impact with 65 percent of technology leaders believing that hiring challenges are hurting the industry, according to a KPMG survey.

The new apprenticeship scheme aims to address these skill gaps.

“The apprenticeship model of earning while learning has worked well in many American industries, and today we open opportunities for apprenticeships to flourish in new sectors of our economy,” US Secretary of Labour Alexander Acosta said in a statement.

“With 7.4 million open jobs and job creators searching for skilled job seekers, apprenticeship expansion will continue to close the skills gap and strengthen the greatest workforce in the world – the American workforce.”

The Department announced awards totaling US$183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for 23 educational institutions partnering with companies that provide a funding match component.  The Department will also make available an additional US$100 million for efforts to expand apprenticeships.


Just six months into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order to create a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. The group included representatives of business, labour, educational institutions, trade associations, and public officials, inviting them to offer their recommendations on how to best expand the apprenticeship model in America.

Last week’s announcement of additional funds is a result of that initiative and covers academic institutions across the country, including Connecticut State Colleges and Universities with their private partners, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Electric Boat, IBM, Sound Manufacturing, and Pratt & Whitney.

Miami Dade College and Polk State College are also receiving funds for their partnerships with the Computing Technology Industry Association and Kaseya. And the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) with Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“(Apprenticeships) are just beginning to develop in all of these nontraditional fields,” said Michael Netzer, Executive Dean of Continuing Education and Online Learning at CCBC.

Since the apprenticeship programme was expanded in January 2017, the Department of Labour says that there have been more than a million new apprenticeships created.