This month, SelectUSA is pleased to feature a new multi-part guest blog focusing on workforce opportunities. These posts are authored by members of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), which is responsible for coordinating activities across federal agencies that promote investment. Read the first entry here.
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The U.S. workforce is diverse, skilled, innovative, and mobile – and among the most productive in the world. Throughout my 20 years working at the Department of Labor, I am continually amazed by stories of Americans who have unlocked their full potential and reached success in their careers.
As the United States works to meet the needs of a 21st century economy, innovative and collaborative approaches to workforce development are increasingly being interwoven into the American experience. Apprentices and apprenticeship programs – many of which are being introduced by multinational companies – form a large part of those stories.
This is why, as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2016 (November 14-20th), I am proud to highlight the important role registered apprenticeships have played in our country’s efforts to attract and retain foreign direct investment (FDI).
Apprenticeships provide opportunities that open doors for Americans from a wide array of industry backgrounds. For workers, apprenticeships are a pathway to earn solid wages while learning the skills necessary to succeed in high-demand careers. For employers, they are a way to attract and retain a skilled workforce and build a fresh line of talent from the bottom up.
The apprenticeship model has strong, successful roots in Europe – and is now making its mark on the United States. Siemens, for example, is a Germany-based industrial company with a strong American arm. They initiated their first apprenticeship program in 2011, and have expanded to North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and other states. Just last month, Swiss company Nestle announced the Nestle Waters North America partnership with the Maine Department of Labor and a commitment to place 10 percent of its mechanic hires into apprenticeship roles by 2022. Another Swiss company, Zurich Insurance, has also recently launched a U.S. program and aims to have 100 apprentices in it by 2020.
The larger, nationwide effort to foster FDI opportunities is supported by organizations like SelectUSA, a federal program housed in the International Trade Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. SelectUSA helps facilitate job-creating business investments into the United States and raises awareness of the critical role that FDI plays in the U.S. economy. Many of these jobs are increasingly being linked to registered apprenticeship programs.
I am proud to work alongside my colleagues to help inspire other companies to invest in registered apprenticeship programs in the United States. The long-term benefits are twofold, helping both job seekers and employers. For more information and to get involved, please visit our website. You can also join the conversation and share your stories using the hashtag #ApprenticeshipWorks.