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Trump Administration Proposes New Apprenticeship Structure

June 26, 2019

The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday released proposed rules for a new apprenticeship structure, as well as funding for apprenticeship programs.

The Trump administration has been working on an industry-recognized system of apprenticeships, which would exist in parallel with the existing federally recognized apprenticeship program. The Labor Department released a notice of proposed rulemaking for the new system, as well as $183.8 million for educational institutions to develop and expand apprenticeships through partnerships with companies that provide matching funds. The department added another $100 million in funding to expand apprenticeships.

"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," Alexander Acosta, the U.S. secretary of labor, said in a written statement.

Congressional Democrats and others have criticized the Trump administration's approach to industry-recognized apprenticeships, in part over concerns that they will lack requirements such as the mandatory wage increases for workers that are included in the federally registered program. Others, however, have said the existing system is balky and unable to meet work-force demands.

Senator Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat and ranking member of the Senate's education and labor committee, said the Labor Department's release was not a serious proposal.

"It's a giveaway to private corporations and for-profit colleges without any guarantee that apprentices are getting quality training opportunities, are being paid fairly for the work they do or are working in safe conditions," Murray said in a written statement.

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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