President Trump kicked off what the White House has dubbed “Workforce Development Week” with a trip to Wisconsin where he visited Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee. Led by Ivanka Trump, this effort will reorganize job training programs and push new policies that will support and expand apprenticeship programs and means to connect workers with jobs.

The American labor sector has struggled in recent years to address what is known as the ‘skills gap,’ namely the millions of jobs in the United States that remain unfilled, despite millions of people looking for work in the U.S. For example, there are about 150,000 construction job openings in America, which is twice the number it was five years ago (Bureau of Labor Statistics) There are currently 6.9 million unemployed persons. The Trump Administration hopes to support policy that will begin to close the skills gap, and match workers with unfilled, good jobs.

The Current Labor Climate in America

  • 95% of Business Roundtable CEOs surveyed report that finding talent was problematic (U.S. Dept. of Labor.)
  • Although the unemployment rate is a low 4.3%, there are 6 million vacant jobs in the United States, the highest level on record (U.S. Dept. of Labor.)
  • Manufacturing, IT and healthcare face particular shortages of skilled workers (U.S. Dept. of Labor.)
  • Apprenticeships are integral to thriving economies, yet represent only 0.3% of the workforce in the United States (U.S. Dept. of Labor.)

Over the next 10 years, we’ll need almost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs, and 2 million may go unfilled because of the skills gap (National Association of Manufacturers). According to a recent report, 80% of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly-skilled production positions (National Association of Manufacturers).

Labor force participation rates vary according to education level: 88% for college graduates, 81% for those who have attended some college, 76% for those with a high school diploma, and 66% for those with less than a high school diploma (Bloomberg). Additional skills training and apprenticeships could go a long way potentially to increase labor participation rates among the less-educated population, and match unemployed workers with unfilled jobs.