Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, in a speech to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) IE3 Conference attendees, said President Trump has instructed the Department of Labor to lead the effort in expanding apprentice programs for a variety of blue collar trades.
“We’re in the process of meeting with businesses, labor unions, trade industry groups, non-profits, educational institutions and public officials, to design and certify high quality apprenticeship programs in their industry,” Acosta said, as the opening speaker during the three-day conference, Feb. 12-14 in Washington, DC.
Using the medical and legal professions as an example, Acosta said industry segments should work closer with labor, colleges and other educational institutions to develop programs and certification for their respective industries.
“We need an education model that respond to the demands of the workforce,” Acosta said, and provide a Bureau of Labor statistic that said the need for new heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians and installers will increase by 15 percent over the next 10 years. That means you will need 50,000 more employees.”
Acosta praised the HVAC industry and its workers.
“From this administration’s perspective, air conditioning means a lot more than just cooler homes. Your industry is a source of quality, family-sustaining jobs.”
Acosta also reviewed the Trump Administration’s recent tax victory one that has generated much positive activity.
“More than 330 companies across the country have already announced bonuses, wage increases, and expanded benefits for their employees as a result of tax reform,” Acosta said.
Acosta mentioned President Trump’s January proposal to make it easier for small businesses to band together and create their own type of health insurance plans that would operate independently of the Affordable Care Act.
“Large corporations have advantages when they purchase health insurance. They have economies of scale. They represent large groups of employees, and they have substantial purchasing power. When a large corporation negotiates, it has thousands of employees, and gets better rates.Our current health system places burdens on the small businesses across America, that create the majority of jobs. The small business healthcare proposal is designed to reduce much of this burden and level the playing field.”
The proposal’s comment period will expire on March 3. After which President Trump will adopt the final rules as law.
ACCA leadership said it is encouraged by the Secretary’s efforts to solve the contracting industry’s workforce issues and challenges with the affordability of healthcare. ACCA is leading the industry by working closely with the Secretary and his staff on these issues.