Just as National Apprenticeship Week has highlighted the growing support for apprenticeships here in the United States, we are also seeing greater appreciation abroad for this proven model of preparing workers for exciting career opportunities.
In September, I traveled with Secretary Perez to Ankara, Turkey, where he joined other labor ministers from the world’s major economies in committing to reduce the share of disconnected youth, in part by implementing quality apprenticeships. He also welcomed a new commitment by the business and labor leaders of G-20 countries to collaborate to build more apprenticeships globally.
ILAB's Mark Mittelhauser (right) at the G20 in September 2015.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the government has just committed to creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.Australia launched a new Apprenticeship Support Network in July, and has committed to investing up to $200 million per year to increase apprenticeship completion rates and deliver updated services to apprentices.
While apprenticeship systems vary from country to country, they often face similar challenges and can offer valuable lessons here as we work to double the number of apprenticeships in the United States.
In the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, one of our goals is to promote greater dialogue across borders to identify promising lessons that can inform our domestic policies and programs to assist workers. We do this in a number of ways.
Secretary Perez tours the Siemens’ apprenticeship training center in Berlin, Germany, in late 2014.
This year, we supported the department as it signed agreements with Germany, Switzerland and Spain to increase cooperation on workforce development, and apprenticeships in particular. We have also partnered with the department's Employment and Training Administration to support visits by Secretary Perez and Deputy Secretary Lu to Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to see up-close how their systems work and to share our experiences.
These efforts are already paying dividends. Our apprenticeship LEADERs program, for example, draws from successful models of engaging employers overseas to take ownership of growing apprenticeships among their peers. And by studying the German and Swiss models, we’ve also seen in new ways just how critical worker voice and engagement are to ensuring that apprenticeships grow not only in quantity, but in quality as well.
Part of our international engagement is also directed at making connections with international companies, many of which have investments in the United States and are interested in increasing apprenticeships here. We are working in partnership with the Employment and Training Administration and the Global Apprenticeships Network to engage the business sector and build support for quality apprenticeships in a range of new industries.
All across the world, we see a growing recognition that strong apprenticeship systems are integral to developing a 21st-century workforce. Going forward, we plan to redouble our efforts to build support for quality apprenticeships to advance decent work and inclusive growth, both abroad and here at home.
Mark Mittelhauser is the associate deputy undersecretary for international affairs.