The Trump administration on Oct. 16 appointed 20 people to its new Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, authorized by executive order in June. Among them are Associated Builders and Contractors CEO Michael Bellaman, North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey, carpenters’ union General President Douglas J. McCarron and Joseph Sellers Jr., general president of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union.
The governors of Iowa and South Dakota, corporate and association chiefs, and workforce advocates also were named to the panel. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is chair, with respective Education and Commerce secretaries Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross named as vice chairs. But corporate CEOs from conglomerate Siemens and cloud computing giant Salesforce halted their involvement following Trump’s comments on the violent Charlottesville, Va., rally in August, according to Politico.
The task force “will provide varied perspectives,” says Acosta. The administration has promised to double, to $200 million annually, Acosta’s department’s apprenticeship spending but seeks to reduce the federal role in setting its requirements. The panel will offer proposed “administrative and legislative reforms” and “effective strategies for amplifying and encouraging private-sector initiatives.”
ABC says the construction sector needs to hire an estimated 500,000 skilled workers to fill existing backlog, which could double if a large Trump infrastructure program happens. But construction officials have been mixed on whether panel-proposed changes could specifically affect existing federally certified industry apprentice programs. They now make up 20% of all U.S. programs, the largest share.