President Biden voiced his support for bolstering apprenticeships over degrees. Here's how he plans to do so.
Last night, President Biden delivered a State of the Union address that covered plenty of pertinent topics to Americans. Discussing things like the war in Ukraine and funding the police, Biden also weighed heavily on domestic topics like the economy and inflation. Clocking in at 1 hour and 2 minutes, Biden’s first State of the Union address also touched base on a recently announced program the Biden administration is planning that will take steps in bolstering registered apprenticeships throughout the nation. Touted as the Biden apprenticeship program, the new initiative looks to train Americans and put them to work in good-paying jobs.
During last night’s speech, Biden asserted his support for skills-based education, training, and hiring. Taking the focus away from degrees, the Biden administration has been stressing a need for the Biden apprenticeship program since the beginning of 2022. The link between education and jobs in the country has been a forefront concern on the Presidents mind as the American labor force continues the struggle with finding employees. “We’ll cut costs and keep the economy going strong by giving workers a fair shot, provide more training and apprenticeships, hire them based on their skills, not degrees,” he said last night.
On February 17th, President Biden and Vice President Harris met with a group of labor leaders to discuss the American Rescue Plan and to get input on the President’s infrastructure agenda. Part of the meeting’s agenda was to discuss how to put Americans to work in union jobs. To do so, Biden’s apprenticeship will focus on training workers for jobs while allowing them to earn while they learn.
Furthermore, President Biden endorsed Congressman Bobby Scott’s bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act of 2021. The bill aims to create and expand registered apprenticeships throughout the nation. According to The House Education and Labor Committee, the bill will create nearly 1 million estimated new apprenticeship opportunities. Additionally, it will ensure these types of apprenticeships will focus on drawing in a diverse workforce. “My Administration is supporting and challenging employers to move towards skill-based hiring, including through a new budget proposal to invest in skills-based hiring research tools and technical assistance,” he said on February 28.
Last week, Biden doubled down on the Biden apprenticeship agenda leading with remarks from the White House implying what the President would discuss during his first State of the Union address. According to the fact sheet, Biden showed support for middle-class Americans striving to make a living in the workforce. To back his beliefs, Biden said people without a college degree were needlessly disadvantaged for good jobs, even when they are often qualified or even overqualified.
While the Biden apprenticeship program may be in the early stages, the President has hinted at using federal and procurement funding to hire based on skills rather than educational qualifications alone. Part of the plan will be to reinstate the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships. Appointing a diverse set of stakeholders across the nation, the program would aim to expand apprenticeships into new employment industries and sectors like clean energy, technology, and healthcare. The pandemic has been detrimental to the economy over the past few years, but the call to reformat the American workforce based on educational degrees has been a heated topic for much longer. With many college graduates complaining about not being able to make enough in the field they went to college for to simply pay off college debt, the Biden apprenticeship hopes to alleviate some of these issues. To further ingrain the belief, one study even shows that workers who participate in apprenticeship programs can earn up to $240,000 more over the course of their lifetime.