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Trump Apprentice Program Stiffs Construction Industry

The Trump administration announced a program to boost funding and change the way apprenticeship programs are managed in the United States. These new apprenticeships would be run by businesses and industry associations, called Industry Recognized Apprentice Programs (IRAPs), in partnerships with schools.

However, construction apprenticeships may not be included in the plan even though the construction industry is the single largest source of apprenticeships in the country.

“At a time when the vast majority of construction firms report having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire, it is deeply troubling that the Trump administration has opted to not include the sector in its new apprenticeship proposal," said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. "Instead of opening new routes for many thousands of Americans to embark on high-paying construction careers, the administration has instead opted to exclude one of the largest single sectors of the economy from what is supposed to be their signature workforce initiative.

“While there are multiple paths into the industry, the fact is that it remains too difficult for many firms and their partners to establish apprenticeship programs for construction workers. Barriers for apprenticeship programs often include the excessive costs incurred during the rigid and inflexible registration process. Had construction been included in this initiative, many more Americans would have had the option to master construction crafts via the proven apprenticeship model. Instead the administration is sending a clear message that contractors need not apply," Sandherr continued.

“It is troubling that the administration says that the construction industry would not “initially” be eligible for consideration without providing any compelling rationale as to why the industry has been excluded. Furthermore, there is no enumeration of the factors that would be considered to permit construction training programs to be included in the apprenticeship expansion program in the future,” Sandherr concluded.