IFA members from Merry Maids, Rainbow International Restoration and The UPS Store meet with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to describe how apprenticeship programs have changed their lives.
By Andrew Parker
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday launching a new initiative that seeks to create pathways for students to transition into careers through apprenticeships and vocational training. “Our Apprentice Initiative will make it dramatically easier for employers, industry groups and unions to create exciting new apprenticeship programs that place students into high-paying careers,” Trump said in his weekly address on Friday. The effort will also seek to remove regulations that restrict the creation of apprentice programs across different industries.
“Under our plan, young Americans will have a pathway to exciting and fulfilling careers,” he continued. They will become next-generation technicians, welders, programmers and “entrepreneurs who revolutionize entire industries,” he added. Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and SBA Administrator Linda McMahon joined Trump on Thursday for the unveiling, where Trump praised his daughter, Ivanka, for her work on the program. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), supporters of the effort, also attended the launch.
Trump met with state governors about expanding apprenticeship programs, and spoke with CEOs of major companies, many of which took part in Thursday’s ceremony. The backing of CEOs comes as a survey by Morning Consult for IFA showed that franchise business owners and investors are more likely to invest in a new business today than prior to the 2016 Presidential Election. The confidence is in part due to having a pro-business, former CEO in the White House, and many small businesses are eager to capitalize on President Trump’s campaign promises to stimulate business growth and reduce regulations on small businesses.
“Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of four-year college degrees. Instead, apprentices earn while they learn,” Trump said.
Many franchise businesses have existing apprenticeship programs that could benefit under Trump’s initiative. On Wednesday, Acosta and White House representatives hosted a group of around 30 apprentices for a roundtable discussion at the U.S. Department of Labor.
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IFA members included in the group were franchisee Jay Van Deusen and his apprentice Kevin McShane with Dwyer Group brand Rainbow International Restoration; The UPS Store Northern Virginia area franchisee Julie Sterling and former apprentice/current franchisee of the Great Falls location Marlon Barrera; and Adrianna Gray, an assistant manager who participated in the apprentice program at ServiceMaster’s Merry Maids. Others in the meeting included representatives from Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Company, Wyndham Hotels and the Philadelphia Carpenter’s Union.
Acosta said there is an opportunity to “help diversify the workforce” while filling approximately six million job openings across the U.S. He focused on “experience-based education” as a vehicle for upward mobility through technical training instead of getting a four-year college degree. The ability to “earn while you learn” allows students to go to college while serving as an apprentice and securing a career path.
In a June 14 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Acosta pointed out that despite the numerous benefits of vocational training, apprentices make up only 0.3 percent of the American workforce, largely limited to the construction sector.
“There is no reason why apprenticeships should be limited to the trades. CEOs across the financial services, information technology and business services industries have expressed interest in expanding the apprenticeship model,” he wrote.
Several trade groups, including IFA and the National Restaurant Association (NRA), voiced support for the effort. America’s 730,000-plus franchise businesses are poised to help fill the skills gap.
“Franchise businesses have apprenticeship and workforce development programs in place and continue to work hard to address an emerging shortage of skilled workers,” said IFA President and CEO Robert Cresanti, CFE. “IFA is committed to creating new partnerships with government and universities to achieve these goals.”
NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney said the restaurant industry fully supports the Executive Order, stating that it will create “even more opportunities to help employees in the hospitality industry move up the ladder for fulfilling and rewarding careers.” NRA Educational Foundation Executive Vice President Rob Gifford added that a joint apprenticeship program with the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which received $1.8 million from DOL in 2016, “provides the skills and training needed for career advancement across multiple management positions.”
Read IFA’s full statement.
Andrew Parker is Senior Manager of Publishing for the International Franchise Association, and Editor-in-Chief of IFA’s Franchising World magazine.
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