- President Donald Trump hopes to offer more resources for students to pursue apprenticeship and vocational education opportunities by expanding access to financial aid and changing accreditation policies, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Expansion of apprenticeship and vocational opportunities enjoys bipartisan support, though some are concerned by the lack of specifics on how the goal could be accomplished, saying that it would require a change to student rules regarding financial aid.
- The federal government allocates about $120 million per year for civilian apprenticeship programs, and without more investment, it may be difficult to expand that if too much of the financial burden is put on higher ed institutions in lieu of asking employers to invest in apprenticeship efforts.
Trump spoke frequently about vocational and apprenticeship training during the presidential campaign, and expressed appreciation for Germany’s apprenticeship program during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this year. However, with colleges and universities struggling with lower revenues and often suffering from budget cuts, apprenticeship and vocational programs would be hard to imagine without significant public or private investment. Expanding financial aid options for students to enroll in such programs may be of little help to administrators if they lack the funding to establish the infrastructure for such programs at their school in the first place.
However, if these schools received funding to help establish such programs, it could offer a pipeline to employment for students, which is an attribute that could make a college more attractive to potential applicants and help reverse declining enrollment. In Montana, an innovative partnership established an apprenticeship program at a community college that intended to tackle the state’s employee shortage and student attrition rates. As debate increases over how to make student outcomes data publicly accessible, apprenticeship programs will undoubtedly lead to better outcome statistics for colleges and universities. Helping establish programs with local businesses can also help schools increase communication and partnerships with their surrounding communities, which can be a benefit if that college and community had ever felt at odds.