- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2017

President Trump launched an initiative Thursday to expand apprenticeships and vocational training programs, saying putting more Americans back to work required giving them the skills for the “jobs of the future.”

He signed executive orders that loosen federal restrictions on job-training programs and encourage partnerships between business and colleges to train young workers for a vast array of jobs that employers struggle to fill.

“We are training people to have great jobs and high-paying jobs,” Mr. Trump said at a White House signing ceremony.

The president said the on-the-job training and earn-as-you-learn programs would prepare students for many rewarding careers, including high-tech jobs operating state-of-the-art machinery.

The training also would give young workers an alternative to the “crushing debt” associated with a four-year college degree, he said.

“We are here to today to celebrate the dignity of work — it’s really a good term, dignity of work — and the greatness of the American worker, which I have been celebrating for a long time,” Mr. Trump said.

In a nod to the blue-collar voters who were instrumental in putting him in the White House, he added: “I probably wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the American worker.”

The push for more apprenticeships, technical schools and other training for trades has been a touchstone for both Republican and Democratic presidents, but Mr. Trump has made it part of an economic agenda heavy on deregulation.

“We will be removing federal restricting that have prevented many industries from creating apprenticeship programs,” he said. “We have regulations on top of regulations, and in history no one has never gotten rid of so many regulations as the Trump administration. That’s one of the reasons you see the jobs and the companies all coming in so strongly.”

Under the executive order, the Department of Labor will allow more entities — including companies, trade associations and unions — to create job-training programs that will be eligible for federal recognition and support. The current system restricts eligibility.

The administration also will more actively promote job-training programs and work on establishing universally recognized credentialing and certification, giving the training value similar to that of a college degree.

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