In Wisconsin, Trump touts ‘earn while you learn’ jobs push

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. — President Trump hit the road on Tuesday to tout new efforts to boost apprenticeships designed to help millions of young people fill open jobs. 

Trump, who once hosted a reality TV show named “The Apprentice,” toured a Wisconsin technical college with his daughter Ivanka Trump and top Cabinet officials to highlight an initiative to get colleges and businesses to increase support for programs that allow people to make money while learning a trade. 

“It’s what keeps our nation going,” Trump said during an event at the Waukesha County Technical College. “We are going to do everything we can to make sure more young people have opportunities.”

{mosads}Trump convened a roundtable to showcase his administration’s efforts, which he dubbed “earn while you learn,” with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. 

He said more announcements would come on Wednesday, but the White House has yet to release details. 

It was the latest effort by the White House to drive its economic agenda, which has been relegated to the sidelines by the controversies surrounding the Russia investigation. 

Trump spoke as Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey and his involvement in the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.  

The testimony was aired on Air Force One during the president’s flight to Wisconsin, but it’s not clear if the president watched the hearing. 

The White House has argued that apprenticeships are the key to filling roughly 6 million jobs that companies say they can’t fill due to lack of skilled workers. The construction sector is a major focus for apprenticeships, but the administration said they could help train workers in agriculture, engineering and healthcare as well. 

Trump said it requires a change in mentality from institutions of higher learning, which typically offer two- and four-year degrees. 

He said he could remember college classmates who “didn’t have a great ability or frankly didn’t have a great liking for what they were doing or what they were studying. But they could take apart an engine. They could do drilling like I’ve never seen before.”

Critics say the administration has been light on specifics and that past presidents, including President Obama, have promoted similar efforts before. 

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said that a 40 percent reduction in job-training cuts in Trump’s budget shows he’s not truly committed to the effort. 

“While the Trump administration talks about supporting career and technical education and job training, their rhetoric doesn’t match the reality of the budget cuts they are proposing,” she said in a statement. 

Tags Jeff Sessions Tammy Baldwin

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