Biden administration goes bigger on funding apprenticeships, hoping to draw contrast with GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Thursday that it’s providing $244 million to expand and update the federal government’s registered apprenticeship program — an effort to bring more people into higher-paying work that doesn’t require a college degree.

White House Domestic Policy Adviser Neera Tanden and Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su are announcing the financial commitment in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The funding is the highest sum in the apprenticeship program’s history, with the money going to 32 states and 52 grantees.

After President Joe Biden’s anemic answers in the June 27 debate against Donald Trump, his team has tried to put greater focus on the contrast between his policies and what Republicans are offering, hoping that substance will be more decisive than style and age in November’s presidential election.

“This really is a stark contrast to where Republicans are writ large,” Tanden said. “While previous administrations tried to talk about this or use it as a talking point, this administration has really delivered.”

The House Republican budget plan would cut the apprenticeship program by 47%, despite employers saying they need more skilled workers. The low 4.1% unemployment rate has left many companies saying they are unable to fill jobs in construction, manufacturing and other sectors.

The latest Labor Department figures show there are 641,044 registered apprenticeships, an increase from the Trump administration when apprenticeships peaked in 2020 at 569,311.

Both Biden and Trump have pledged to boost opportunities for blue-collar workers. Biden’s policies to support new factories for computer chips, batteries and other products have corresponded with a surge in construction spending for manufacturing facilities, but companies say they need more workers for those projects to succeed.

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