June 15 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at increasing apprenticeships and training for blue collar jobs.
The order seeks to expand the number of people qualified to work in the building trades and other manual labor positions, industries that are experiencing a dire shortage of qualified workers.
The federal government estimates there are 6 million jobs unfilled in the building trades. A part of the problem is too few young people are pursuing careers as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders and other more specialized building trades -- and the typical four-year college degree doesn't qualify an individual to work in those fields.
By seeking to expand apprenticeships and other trade training programs, Trump said more Americans would be able to find fulfilling work. The executive order permits industry groups to create their own apprenticeship programs and submit them to the Department of Labor for review and funding.
"We're empowering these companies, these unions, industry groups, federal agencies to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens. Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four-year college degrees. Instead, apprentices earn while they learn," Trump said.
The topic of apprenticeships and other workforce development initiatives enjoys bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Democrats, backed by organized labor, support programs that will create more union jobs. Republicans, backed by business interests, want to improve the nation's workforce and fill positions companies need in order to grow.
Trump's executive order also requires all federal agencies that participate in apprenticeship programs or workforce training to examine whether their efforts are duplicative or could be combined with other programs to greater effect.
Trump singled out his daughter and adviser, Ivanka, for her work on the apprenticeship program.
"So I want to thank my daughter Ivanka and her leadership. She has worked so hard on this. She understands how important it is. We're training people to have great jobs and high-paying jobs," he said.