Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta on June 15 welcomed President Donald J. Trump’s step toward fulfilling his promise to grow the American economy with the announcement of an executive order to expand apprenticeships and vocational training, close the skills gap and reduce regulatory burdens on workforce development programs.

“There are six million job openings in the United States,” said Secretary Acosta. “This is the highest number of job vacancies on record. American companies want to hire Americans, and Americans want to work. Apprenticeships teach the skills needed to find good jobs and to succeed in those jobs. Apprentices are a proven pathway to helping businesses find the workers they need, while helping workers launch prosperous careers without the crushing burden of student debt.”

President Trump signed the executive order expanding apprenticeship programs and vocational training at a White House ceremony that was also attended by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; Rep. Bobby Scott; Rep. Virginia Scott; the head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon; several governors and a number of apprentices. In their remarks, the president and Secretary Acosta praised the White House Office of American Innovation and Ivanka Trump, a presidential adviser, for their leadership on this initiative.

The executive order calls on the Secretary of Labor, in consultation with the secretaries of education and commerce, to propose regulations that promote the development of apprenticeship programs by industry and trade groups, nonprofit organizations, unions and joint labor-management organizations. It also directs the departments of Commerce and Labor to promote apprenticeships to business leaders in critical industry sectors, including manufacturing, infrastructure, cybersecurity and health care.