Business & Tech

Trump to apprentices: You’re hired

US President Donald Trump hands the pen he signed an executive order with on the Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives to apprentice Charles Robel in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump hands the pen he signed an executive order with to apprentice Charles Robel. The executive order focused on increasing federal grant money for apprenticeship programs.

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday ordered more money and a bigger role for private companies in designing apprenticeship programs meant to fill some of the 6 million open jobs in the United States.

Trump signed an executive order to roughly double to $200 million in taxpayer money spent on learn-and-earn programs under a grant system called ApprenticeshipUSA. The money would come from existing job training programs. The executive order would leave it to industry to design apprenticeships under broad standards to be set by the Labor Department.

‘‘We’re training people to have great jobs and high paying jobs,’’ Trump said at a White House ceremony. ‘‘We’re here today to celebrate the dignity of work and the greatness of the American worker.’’

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Trump is directing the government to review and streamline some 43 workforce programs across 13 agencies. Senior administration officials have said Trump was reluctant to spend more federal funds on apprenticeships, so the boost would come from existing money, perhaps from the streamlining process. The officials spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity to preview Trump’s order.

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Companies have long complained that they can’t find trained people to fill highly technical jobs, and apprenticeship programs have sprung up around the country. Companies now have to register with the Labor Department and adhere to specific government guidelines.

Under Trump’s order, private industry would have more flexibility and be eligible for registration by the Labor Department.

Representative Bobby Scott, Democrat of Virginia, attended the signing ceremony and supports expanding apprenticeships generally.

‘‘There is a little bit of uncertainty,’’ about how the order will be put into effect, said Scott, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He said he recommended to the administration that all apprenticeships be registered, but Trump’s order does not require it.

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‘‘We’re concerned about the unregistered programs,’’ Scott said. ‘‘The key is accountability.’’

The Labor Department, White House officials said, would review the apprenticeships but under broader standards. Some critics say that means government approval would be more limited.

‘‘We get that he wants to put a little more money toward the grants, but they’re also trying to eliminate some of the oversight,’’ said Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, who is co-sponsoring a bill with Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, to give companies tax incentives for apprenticeships. ‘‘You don’t want a fly-by-night training program.’’