NRA applauds Trump's apprenticeship order, while critics say it's full of holes

| by S.A. Whitehead
NRA applauds Trump's apprenticeship order, while critics say it's full of holes

The National Restaurant Association and its educational foundation have been pushing for more love from the feds for apprenticeships and this week they got their wishes, when President Trump signed an executive order the NRA said both expands and streamlines the nation's apprenticeship programs.

An NRA news release said the order cuts down the red tape in many administrative programs because it moves their certification process out of the U.S. Department of Labor to industry, while also doubling the current $200 million of funding by using money from current job training initiatives.

The president's executive order "encourages" the creation of such programs by other non-governmental entities, including private industry, colleges and high schools. Those programs would then be left to industry to design under broad standards from the Labor Department. 

"We're training people to have great jobs and high paying jobs," Trump said at the signing ceremony. "We're here today to celebrate the dignity of work and the greatness of the American worker."

The NRA and many other companies and business organizations are all for that approach, since they say they have trouble filling jobs, particularly for high-tech positions. Likewise, they say registering programs with the Labor Department and adhering to its rules makes an already tough job tougher. 

NPR reports that currently there are more than 6 million jobs open in the U.S. that could benefit from an apprenticeship, but only a mere 500,000 such apprenticeships currently exist. Earlier this year, Trump accepted a challenge to create 5 million new apprenticeships, according to the news outlet. 

The Trump administration feels industry and other entities outside of the government can create and run the programs needed to fill open positions and do it more quickly, cheaply and well, an assertion with which the NRA agrees. 

"Apprenticeships create more affordable education and job training, especially for those Americans who want to work in the hospitality, restaurant and foodservice industry," NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney said in the organization's news release.

"The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation has already begun creating and implementing our apprenticeship program and with today's Executive Order we will have even more opportunities to help employees in the hospitality industry move up the ladder for fulfilling and rewarding careers." 

Still, a November 2016 report by the U.S. Commerce Department under President Barack found that "apprenticeships are not fully understood in the United States, especially by employers, who tend to use apprentices for a few, hard-to-fill positions," but not as widely as they could, according to NPR. 

Additionally, critics argue Trump's executive order will likely not have adequate funding to succeed because the president has already pushed for slashing federal job training funding in half. Add to that, news from NPR that only about a half-million of the nation's 146 million jobs were filled by apprentices last year, and the challenges of the funding issues crystallize.

But the NRA is responsible for one of the relatively few existing apprenticeship programs and last year, the organization's educational foundation was awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Labor to create the first ever federally registered hospitality sector apprenticeship program. 

Through the Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship project it now runs with the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the NRA said the program will identify at least 450 apprentices in the restaurant, food service and hospitality industry, and give them on-the-job paid training and standardized instruction to put them on track to achieve a management-level position. 

"We are excited about working with the administration to help create more job and career opportunities in the restaurant, food service and hospitality industry through apprenticeship," National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Executive Vice President Rob Gifford said in an NRA news release. 

Topics: Staffing & Training

Companies: National Restaurant Association

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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