President Donald Trump plans to visit Waukesha County Technical College on Tuesday as part of his administration’s week-long focus on national workforce development issues.
The president’s emphasis on concerns raised by CEOs across the country, that there are some 6 million job vacancies — the highest since the 1980s — largely due to a lack of qualified workers, echoes a similar focus on workforce development in Wisconsin by Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker will join Trump for the tour of Waukesha County Technical College and for a discussion with local business owners, teachers and apprentices.
Walker also will be one of eight governors participating in a White House discussion about workforce issues on Thursday with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and daughter Ivanka Trump.
Trump also plans to attend a fundraiser for Walker on Tuesday evening in southeastern Wisconsin. Tickets are $1,000 each and a photograph with Trump costs $10,000, according to an invitation obtained by The Associated Press. The location is being disclosed only to ticket buyers.
In a conference call with reporters, Ivanka Trump and Acosta, who will also come to Waukesha on Tuesday, discussed the need for government and the private sector to work together on helping more students pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields, as well as technical education.
“In recent decades, there has been great focus on the importance of four-year education, higher education,” Ivanka Trump said. “And the reality is that that is not the right path for everyone. While it is the right path for many, it is not for everyone.”
Acosta said that in a recent survey, nearly 95 percent of CEOs reported having trouble filling vacancies. The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.3 percent. In Wisconsin, it’s 3.2 percent, nearly an all-time low.
Acosta said there needs to be a greater emphasis on apprenticeship programs, which could also help close the skills gap for women and minorities. He said of the 6 million vacant jobs in the country, many are in manufacturing, IT and health care. He said nine out of 10 graduates of apprenticeship programs find work right away and the average starting salary is $60,000, which is higher than the average for college graduates.
Reed Cordish, a senior aide to the president, said the White House in the upcoming week plans to announce “highly substantive” actions it will take. Also, Trump will deliver a major policy speech on the issue on Wednesday.
“Wisconsin has been a leader in creating the ecosystem of local government working with technical schools in partnership with the private sector,” Cordish said. “In this regard, the Waukesha County Technical College is the perfect location for the president to visit and for the administration to learn from.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairwoman Martha Laning highlighted a recent federal report that showed Wisconsin’s job creation through December was the lowest of Walker’s six years in office.
“Throughout his two terms, Gov. Scott Walker focused on giving massive tax giveaways to millionaires and out-of-state corporations,” Laning said. “The same failed ideas of the last six years don’t need to be duplicated at the federal level. Wisconsinites need an economy that works for them all — not just those at the very top.”