Apprenticeships Provide a Path to the Middle Class

By Taylor Garland
Sep 10 2015 |

The White House announced $175 million in new funding to train American workers.

President Obama traveled to Michigan Wednesday to announce $175 million to expand apprenticeships across the country. This new funding, managed by the Department of Labor, will provide “earn and learn” training opportunities to 34,000 new apprenticeships, according to a White House fact sheet.  

“Whether it is a bachelor’s degree, an associates degree, a journeyman’s card from an apprenticeship program, having a credential above and beyond your high school diploma: that’s the surest ticket to the middle class,” said President Obama in his remarks at Macomb Community College.

This announcement continues the president’s American Apprenticeship Grants program. “The president is committed to creating more opportunities for hard-working Americans to get ahead by advancing job-driven training initiatives that help American workers acquire the skills they need to succeed in good jobs that are available now,” the White House said.

There are a lot of apprenticeship programs in the manufacturing sector. ArcelorMittal, the top producer of steel and mining in the world and an Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) stakeholder, offers an apprenticeship aptly named ‘Steelworker for the Future.’ ArcelorMittal seeks to replace near-retiring workers with a new generation of tech-savvy job seekers. The program educates and trains students for two years after high school. Then, if all goes as planned, the company offers participants a job upon completetion. 

AAM’s own Jeff Bonior spoke to R.D. Parpart, team leader for Steelworker for the Future program, back in April. Parpart himself graduated from the program:

We require a skill base now that wasn’t required 30, 40, 50 years ago so with today’s automation, students or prospective employees have to have a much stronger skill base in science, automation, math, and engineering-type skills. So we created this program – Steelworker for the Future – and we partner with local community colleges that are close to our facilities and the students can go to one of the specific schools and enroll in a specific curriculum.

Programs such as Steelworker for the Future and funding from the federal government will pave the way for new careers in today’s manufacturing sector. Apprenticeship programs provide the skills Americans need to secure good-paying middle class jobs. Put simply: Our economy needs more programs like this one.

Read more about ArcelorMittal’s Steelworker for the Future program.