Apprenticeships are a path to prosperity, and they could be much more so if people would drop their preconceived notions about them, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Tuesday.
Perez highlighted a woman he met in Los Angeles: She bounced around jobs, struggled to find a career path, until she landed a union apprenticeship in construction. Now, she’s helping build the city’s new light-rail system, a job Perez said is providing security for her and her three children.
But Perez acknowledged that there’s a mental shift that needs to take place in order to drastically increase apprenticeships, which couple on-the-job training with instruction in a highly skilled occupation. “I think the biggest attitudinal adjustment we have to do with a lot of parents is there are multiple pathways to prosperity,” Perez said. “Apprenticeship is one, a four-year degree is another, community college, etc.”
With this week marking the inaugural National Apprenticeship Week, Perez joined Steve Clemons—The Atlantic’s Washington editor-at-large—to discuss how apprenticeships help launch Americans into the middle class at a National Journal LIVE event at the Newseum titled “Conversation with U.S. Secretary of Labor.”