“Let’s do that — let’s go for that 5 million,” Trump responded.
To achieve that goal, his administration would need to increase the current number of active apprenticeships almost tenfold — from 505,371 in the last quarter of 2016, according to the Department of Labor — in just five years.
Trump’s position is in some ways a continuation of the Obama administration’s effort to revive apprenticeships across industries. The number of apprenticeships grew substantially under President Barack Obama, from roughly 350,000 in 2010 to more than half a million today.
“The Obama administration said, ‘Hey, it’s a great model with great outcomes, let’s expand it,'” said Eric Seleznow, who was the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary during Obama’s presidency. “And that’s exactly what they did.”
While most experts agree that more apprenticeships would be a good thing for the economy, the Trump administration’s budget proposals in recent months — including a 40 percent cut to job training programs and a 21 percent cut to the Department of Labor — created concern among apprenticeship advocates.
“It’s an aspirational goal,” Seleznow said, referring to the 5 million apprenticeships. “I don’t think it’s feasible.”